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EPA publishes independent review into living near non-hazardous landfills

8 Dec 2016

An updated, independent review commissioned by Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide a current understanding of research on potential human health impacts from air emissions from non-hazardous waste landfills has been published. 

The review, Air Emissions from Non-hazardous Waste Landfills, is an update on a 2013 RMIT literature review, which was also commissioned to determine whether there were any reported links between air emissions and the health of residents living near these landfills.  

EPA Development Assessments Manager, Tim Faragher said the independent review looked at scientific literature on potential health effects in local communities associated with air emissions from non-hazardous waste landfills. 

“The independent review confirmed the findings of the 2013 RMIT review,” he said. 

“The assessment of all available data and published studies as part of this review shows that living near a non-hazardous waste landfill is not associated with any adverse health effects.” 

“It does however acknowledge that some gases and compounds released from non-hazardous waste landfills may be odorous and may affect the wellbeing of the local community.” 

“The review is not specific to any projects EPA is currently assessing, but was prepared to provide an update of the available data and studies since the RMIT literature review was completed in 2013.” 

“EPA will consider the independent review in the technical assessments undertaken for all future works approval (and licence) applications for non-hazardous landfills within Victoria. It will also be used to help develop future monitoring programs around non-hazardous landfills.” 

The review:  

  • Builds on a 2013 RMIT literature review which was commissioned to characterise gaseous emissions from non-hazardous waste landfills, and to determine whether there were any reported links between air emissions and the health of residents living near these landfills.
  • Critically evaluated published national and international studies, available to 2016, related to evaluating potential links between living near non-hazardous waste landfills and health effects.
  • Previous data (available at the time the 2013 review was undertaken) was also included for completeness. 
  • The evaluation included – for one study that did identify a link – an assessment against the commonly used Bradford Hill criteria to establish if there was a scientifically valid cause and effect relationship between living near non-hazardous landfills and the reported diseases in that study.
  • Was prepared in compliance with the 2012 enHealth national guidelines on assessing environmental health issues.
  • Was undertaken using various databases to identify published studies and publications that relate to the following search terms: air quality, air monitoring, landfill, waste, putrescible waste, municipal waste, malodourous landfill, volatile organic compounds, gas, community health, human health and health effects. 

The independent review is available on EPA’s website.

Page last updated on 8 Dec 2016