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Particulate Research Group

The Particulate Research Group (PRG)

The Particulate Research Group (PRG), convened by Ron Bailey and chaired by Dr David Drew, comprises eminent scientists Professors Mike Reeks and Vyvyan Howard, alongside Shlomo Dowen of the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN).

'Particulates Matter: Are emissions from incinerators safe to breathe?' (PRG, December 2019)

The report released by the Particulate Research Group (PRG) highlights misleading statements made by the Government about the health dangers posed by waste incinerators. ‘Particulates Matter: Are emissions from incinerators safe to breathe?’ is based on an analysis of Government answers to many dozens of Parliamentary Questions asked by Dr David Drew, then MP for Stroud, about particulate matter emitted by municipal waste incinerators.The evidence shows how Government Ministers omitted important caveats and provided incomplete information – resulting in criticism that the Government misled Parliament.

The report raises concerns that by focussing their attention on the mass of particles released by incinerators instead of the number of particles released by incinerators the Government is failing to do their utmost to protect the public. The report highlights how despite the fact that for some health outcomes the number of particles is the most relevant factor, the Pollution Inventory only includes information on the tonnes of particles and not their quantity. The report includes estimates giving the approximate number of particles were released from incinerators in 2018, with the methodology for calculating this set out in a technical note by Professor Reeks.

According to Professor Reeks:

  • There is a very real health concern associated with the the inhalation of toxic gases and aerosols produced during the incineration/combustion of municipal solid waste.
  • Measurements of the distribution of mass versus particle size of aerosol emissions from UK incinerators when converted to particle number versus size, indicate that over 90% of the emitted particles are ultra fine particles (ufps) < .1 micron in size.
  • It implies that the bag filters used for the removal of particles produced in the incineration process have a very low efficiency for the removal of ufps contradicting assertions that these filters have a high removal efficiency for ufps.
  • An analysis of fibre filter retention shows a minimum of the filter retention efficiency in the region. .05 to .5 microns the filter efficiency as low as 5% compared to 100% for particle sizes >1 micron. We believe this explains the very high release rates 1014 particles/s released from these UK incinerators.

Read the ‘Particulates Matter’ report (PRG, December 2019) [PDF]

Read the press release associated with the report (PRG, December 2019) [PDF]

Read the ‘Converting mass of PM2.5 particles to number of particles’ technical note (Professor Mike Reeks, December 2019] [PDF]

Download the 2018 Pollution Inventory Dataset (Environment Agency, November 2019)