The burning question

Waste incineration and recycling are releasing large amounts of dioxin, a dangerous carcinogen, says a review of studies in the past three years conducted by AEA Technology of Harwell, Oxfordshire, at the behest of the Environment Agency, UK. These alternatives are deemed by many as an important way to conserve the environment. The review says that between 2,500 and 13,000 grams of dioxin are released into the environment in the UK every year. Of this, 10 to 40 per cent goes into the air, while the rest remains in the soil. A 1991 directive on waste management by the European Union has encouraged local communities to build incinerators as an "environmentally-friendly' alternative to landfill. Incineration reduces the quantity of wastes significantly, but burning of certain materials such as polyvinyl chloride releases dioxin (New Scientist , Vol 156, No 2102).

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