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From Executive Summary of Health Research Board Report entitled:

Health and Environmental Effects of Landfilling and Incineration of Waste – A Literature Review

Summary of research and development needs identified in this report

(a) Risk assessment
Ireland presently has insufficient resources to carry out adequate risk assessments for proposed waste management facilities. Although the necessary skills are available, neither the personnel nor the dedicated resources have been made available. In addition, there are serious data gaps (addressed under point (c) below). These problems should be rectified urgently.

(b) Detection and monitoring of human health impacts
Irish health information systems cannot support routine monitoring of the health of people living near waste sites. There is an urgent need to develop the skills and resources required to undertake health and environmental risk assessments in Ireland. This should be considered as an important development to build capacity in Ireland to protect public health in relation to potential environmental hazards. The recommendations in the Proposal for a National Environmental Health Action Plan (Government of Ireland 1999) could form a basis for this.

(c) Detection and monitoring of environmental impacts
The capacity (in terms of facilities, financial and human resources, data banks, etc.) must be
developed for measuring environmental damage, and changes over time in the condition of the environment around proposed waste sites and elsewhere. There is a serious deficiency of baseline environmental information in Ireland, a situation that should be remedied. The lack of baseline data makes it very hard to interpret the results of local studies, for example around a waste management site. Existing research results should be collated and interpreted as a step toward building a baseline data bank. A strategically designed monitoring programme needs to be initiated that can correct deficiencies in current ambient environmental monitoring. In addition, capacity needs to be built in environmental analysis. In particular, Irish facilities for measuring dioxins are required, and should be developed as a priority. However, the high public profile of dioxins should not distract attention from the need for improved monitoring of other potential pollutants.

(d) Risk communication and perception
Qualitative studies about waste management perceptions revealed a diversity of opinion about waste management issues generally, and about the links between waste management and both human health and environmental quality. To facilitate public debate on the issues of waste management policy and effects, a systematic programme of risk communication will be necessary. This should concentrate on providing unbiased and trusted information to all
participants (or stakeholders) in waste management issues. Public trust, whether it is placed in the regulators, in compliance with the regulations or in the information provided, will be
fundamental in achieving even a modicum of consensus for any future developments in waste
policy in Ireland.


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
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