Living on the edge
the location of your house plays a crucial role in determining your newborn's health. A recently published study links living close to an incinerator with the chances of a newborn suffering from spina bifida (spinal cord malformation) and heart defects. On the other hand, close proximity to a crematorium was found to increase the risk of stillbirths, anencephalus (brain damage) and other birth defects. The 35-year long study, Adverse pregnancy outcomes around incinerators and crematoriums in Cumbria, northwest England, 1956-93, was conducted by the University of Newcastle, the uk.
Both incinerators and crematoriums spew out toxic chemicals. A major pollutant from crematoriums is mercury, whereas emissions from incinerators contain dioxins, furans, particulates, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds. Exposure to these can be via inhalation, or through food, soil and water. According to the study, there is a greater likelihood of lethal congenital abnormalities if the mother lives at a distance of 0.5 kilometre (km) from the incinerator as against the distance of three kms. Similarly there are 1.23 times more chances of the newborn suffering from anencephalus if his/her mother is staying close (0.5 km) to a crematorium rather than living three kms away.
A 2001 study conducted in Belgium also found high levels of dioxins, lead and cadmium in the blood of children living near incinerators. Another study recorded very high levels of dioxins