Mercury risk assessment combining internal and external exposure methods for a population living near a municipal solid waste incinerator.
A health risk assessment of long-term emissions of carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic air pollutants has been carried out for the municipal solid waste incinerator (MSWI) of the city of Taranto, Italy. Ground level air concentrations and soil deposition of carcinogenic (Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-Dioxins/Furans and Cd) and non-carcinogenic (Pb and Hg) pollutants have been estimated using a well documented atmospheric dispersion model. Health risk values for air inhalation, dermal contact, soil and food ingestion have been calculated based on a combination of these concentrations and a matrix of environmental exposure factors. Exposure of the surrounding population has been addressed for different release scenarios based on four pollutants, four exposure pathways and two receptor groups (children and adults). Spatial risk distribution and cancer excess cases projected from plant emissions have been compared with background mortality records. Estimated results based on the MSWI emissions show: (1) individual risks well below maximum acceptable levels, (2) very small incremental cancer risk compared with background level.