Living near a landfill ups lung cancer risk

People living within five kilometres of a landfill site are at an increased risk of lung cancer and respiratory diseases, warns a new study.

The results showed that among residents living close to waste sites, mortality rate and hospitalisations were high due to lung cancer as well as respiratory diseases.

These were especially prominent in children, the researchers said.

Also, dangerous levels of were found to be the annual average exposure to Hydrogen Sulphide — a colourless, flammable gas with a characteristic odour of rotten eggs, which is produced by decomposition — in people living close to larger landfills.

These were further linked to inhalation exposure to endotoxin, microorganisms, and aerosols from waste collection and land filling.

For the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the team evaluated the potential health effects of living near nine different landfills in the Lazio region in Italy and, therefore, being exposed to air pollutants emitted by the waste treatment plants.

The team enrolled 242,409 people in the cohort from 1996 to 2008. At the end of the follow-up period there were 18,609 deaths.

“The evidence on the health of those living near landfills is still controversial. Most of the published studies only use aggregate health data and do not adjust for social-economic status. We have used a residential cohort approach to attempt to overcome these limitations,” said one of the researchers Francesca Mataloni from the Department of Epidemiology, Lazio Regional Health Service in Rome.