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Comparison of respiratory symptoms among community residents near waste disposal incinerators

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A previous survey found that residents near a hazardous waste incinerator reported more respiratory symptoms than residents of a nearby community. To explore the possibility that these findings might have been due to the use of a rural control site, far removed from urban pollution, we expanded the analysis to include reports of respiratory symptoms from residents of six additional communities. Residents of each of four study communities were exposed to the plumes of biomedical, municipal or hazardous waste combustors. For each study community, a comparison community was surveyed that was distant from major point sources of air pollution. Over 4200 respondents were queried by telephone about respiratory symptoms, smoking and other risk factors such as chemical exposures in the workplace and home, and provided a subjective assessment of air quality in their neighborhoods. Differences in symptom prevalence between each study community and its respective control community, as well as a combined control group, were explored, controlling for factors other than community exposure that may affect respiratory health. Results indicate a higher prevalence of all self-reported respiratory symptoms in one community near a hazardous waste incinerator compared with its control community. While this relationship persisted after controlling for perceived air quality and when compared with a combined control group, only respiratory symptoms of long duration remained significant. These results suggest that further examination of the respiratory health of residents living near this waste combustor source is warranted.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2000

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