Health Concerns Checklist

From a joint project of Tellus Institute and JSI Center for Environmental Health Studies-Supported by the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust
Chapter 3: Estimating Community Health Risks, pp.37-43

Contents of the Waste Stream

  1. How will heavy metals be separated from waste to be incinerated? What happens to household hazardous wastes, such as paints and batteries?
  2. What mechanisms are proposed to limit dioxin-forming materials in the waste stream?

Evaluating a Risk Assessment

  1. Is a risk assessment weighing the risks to the community available?
  2. Is an independent consultant to the community available to evaluate and help interpret the risk assessment?
  3. Does the risk assessment give adequate consideration to these factors:
    a. all appropriate health outcomes of concern
    b. concentration of toxins through the food chain
    c. effects of synergism (exposure to multiple toxins)
    d. increased sensitivity of susceptible populations such as children, elders, and those with health problems
    e. risks to workers and their families
    f. risks of transporting materials to and from the facility
    g. risks of ash handling and disposal and treatment of process water
    h. upset conditions when the plant isn't operating optimally
    i. variations in the waste stream
  4. Have the risks of alternatives to the proposed incineration facility been evaluated in depth? Did the analysis of alternatives consider source reduction, recycling, composting, and landfills?

Site Characteristics

  1. What are the meteorological characteristics of the site?
    a. Which areas lie downwind?
    b. Is the site in a valley subject to air inversions?
  2. Is the site close to sensitive agricultural or environmental areas?
  3. Are residences, schools, hospitals, and/or senior citizen centers directly exposed?
  4. What additional background exposures does the community face? Are there other sources of contaminants in the environment present?
  5. Have issues of environmental equity been addressed? Will the incinerator add risks to a low income or minority community that is already burdened with environmental risk from other facilities?

Community Health Status

  1. What is the background health status of the community?
    a. Are cancer incidence rates high?
    b. Has the level of lead in children been measured?
    c. Are the rates of low birthweight unusually high?
  2. Do residents have access to adequate health care?

Pollution Control Devices

  1. Are state of the art pollution control devices in place or proposed?
  2. Will controls be updated as technologies advance?
  3. How can the community participate in decisions on future requirements?

Emergency Planning

  1. What is the plan for protecting the community in case of emergency?
  2. Is worker training adequate?
  3. How will the community participate in emergency plans?
  4. How will the community be kept informed of both routine and unplanned releases from the facility?

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