Press Release Press Release Press Release

16 August 2001

Landfill Health Risk ‘Disturbing’, says CPHVA

A major study which reveals that living near a landfill site can lead to an increased risk of birth defects and low birth weights was described as "very disturbing" by the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association today (Thursday, 16 August).

The CPHVA is particularly concerned that those living near one of Britain’s landfill sites are some of the most vulnerable groups in society – those on low incomes, the elderly and sick, and those from ethnic minorities.

The CPHVA’s lead professional officer (health visiting), Obi Amadi said: ‘What makes this scenario more alarming is that these groups already have an increased risk of disease and higher mortality rates because of other lifestyle factors.’

‘Another section of the population who should be concerned are affluent young couples who are living on new residential estates which may be near old landfill sites.’

The CPHVA was commenting on an article in the British Medical Journal which said: ‘We found small excess risks of congenital anomalies and low and very low birth weight in populations living near landfill sites.’ Eighty percent of the UK’s population lives within two kilometres of a landfill site

Obi Amadi said: ‘We welcome the fact that the government is taking this study seriously and that it is government policy to reduce its reliance on landfill. However, we will be writing, as an Association, to Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett and Stephen Byers, who is responsible for local government, outlining our concerns.’

‘Local authorities should take these health factors into account when granting planning permission for new housing or the regeneration of ‘brownfield’ plots near landfill sites.’

‘There is an obvious need for these landfill sites to be ‘cleaned up’ as much as possible and higher standards in place for any new sites. The relationship between landfill sites and its effect on health is a complex one and calls out for further research.’

‘We would urge parents not to let their children play near such sites or nearby canals and waterways.’




For further information, please contact:

Shaun Noble, Communications Officer - 020 7939 7043 or mobile 07768 69 39 40

CPHVA press releases can be seen on the CPHVA web site:

The CPHVA is an autonomous professional section of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union. The CPHVA represents 18,000 health visitors, school nurses, practice nurses and registered nurses working in the community in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.