At the end of 2009 I was approached by Michael Ryan, a retired civil servant from Shrewsbury. He informed me that he’d examined data in the wards surrounding municipal waste incinerators, and found that infant mortality levels were above average.
As an ‘old school’ socialist I was initially (wrongly and far too arrogantly) dismissive, citing that many incinerators were located in places of great deprivation. Michael Ryan simply asked me to take a look at his work and – importantly – highlighted that not all incinerators are in poor areas. He sent me the figures for Chingford, a place that cannot be described as poor but which is close and downwind of the Edmonton incinerator.
I was able to write an article – Incinerator health risks denied – for the Big Issue North magazine in early 2010. Other articles have followed in the last decade.
No public authority or public health expert is able to explain why Michael Ryan’s work has consistently shown that infant mortality rates around incinerators are above average or why infant mortality levels rise when incinerators are opened.
Michael’s work and my writing pushed the Health Protection Agency (now known as Public Health England/PHE ) to promise to undertake its own study … that did not even contact Michael to ask for his statistics. After a lengthy delay the published report in late 2019 said everything was fine and that incinerators are safe.
Factored into the analysis was deprivation. As I am writing this (February 2020) I am working out how to write another article in response to the PHE’s work. Meanwhile more and more incinerators are under construction with many more on their way.
Michael has calculated that the early deaths of around 70 infants annually can be attributed to pollution from waste incinerators.