Waste Burning Restricts Testicular Growth - Greenpeace

Burning of rubbish could damage children's sexual growth, new research finds

Press release - July 2, 2001
The environmental pressure group Greenpeace called on the Thai government to act swiftly and decisively against incineration of waste as well as the continuing indiscriminate use of hospital waste incinerators after a recent study linked poisonous emissions from waste burning to alarming effects in the sexual development of children living near incinerators.

The environmental pressure group Greenpeace called on the Thai government to act swiftly and decisively against incineration of waste as well as the continuing indiscriminate use of hospital waste incinerators after a recent study linked poisonous emissions from waste burning to alarming effects in the sexual development of children living near incinerators.

A May 2001 study in the international medical journal "The Lancet" found that teenagers living near incinerators had retarded sexual growth -- smaller testicles among males, smaller breasts among females and delayed sexual maturation among both sexes -- than those living in rural areas. The Lancet study found the bodies of teenagers living close to burners in Belgium to contain high levels of toxic chemicals linked to incinerator emissions.

"Shrinking testicles is but another item in the growing litany of ailments connected with the burning of mixed rubbish. This new study confirms the impacts of waste incinerators on human health. If the Thai government insists on waste incineration as the solution to the waste crisis, then it will only aggravate the health and environmental impacts associated with waste burning especially in areas where the proposed incinerators are going to be built," said Tara Buakamsri, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace said it started a campaign against the series of proposed incineration plants in Bangkok, most likely funded by Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) in order to stop Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) from falling into this "toxic trap". A medical waste incinerator which has been operating for years at the On Nuch transfer station proved to be a faulty solution to deal with hospital waste and lacked proper monitoring processes to check environmental and health impacts.

The incineration of waste either in the open or in enclosed facilities emit super- toxic chemicals such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are also being examined for their alleged role in altering sex ratio among populations resulting in the birth of more females than males. These toxic pollutants are already linked to cancer, heart disease and various breathing illnesses.

World over, incinerators, even the high-tech, state-of-the-art ones, are facing increasingly vehement community opposition because of their deadly pollution record. A recently negotiated international treaty on a category of life- threatening chemicals called Persistent Organic Pollutants (dioxins and furans are both POPs) is also expected to effectively prohibit the use of technologies that are known to emit POP chemicals like dioxins and PCBs.

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