by Dr Dick van Steenis

 AAEM Annual Meeting, Sunday, 3 November 2002 .


A dearth of training in toxicology in the UK , refusal to undertake epidemiology of main diseases by zip-code or measurement with analysis of PM2.5 particulates has inevitably resulted in unwise local/political decisions regarding hazardous waste management, siting of waste sites, inadequate abatement or wrong systems for power generation/oil refineries/cement works coincinerating waste and opencasting of coal. The problems are intensified by OP pesticides and by allowing thiomersal containing vaccines & MMR at very early ages, not even allowing for weeks of prematurity. Several case studies follow which illustrate pitfalls and knock-on effects on health which amount to some 40% of the UK NHS budget. Most lethal processes are sited deliberately in deprived areas. Illness arises from exposure but severity is determined by diet, genes and hormonal integrity. Many diseases progress only when the body's protective system has been damaged by deficiencies &/or exposures to toxins.


The defunct 2000MW power station burned heavy fuel oil 1973 to 1991, residual fuel oil until 1996, without any abatement, then tried to obtain consent to switch to a bitumen mix with FGD, but did not succeed. While coal burning emits alkaline particles averaging size PM5, RFO results in acidic PM2 releases. Particles smaller than PM2.5 enter the lungs, where most are retained. The US War Department in 1943 already realised that the most dangerous particles were sized PM1. Porton Down (UK) in 1961 measured emissions of tagged PM1 to PM5 particles released from a 200 feet chimney revealing 44% grounded by 10 miles, another 50% between miles 11 and 50, and the balance by mile 80. Further measurements in USA/UK lead to the conclusion that the most dangerous footprint lies downwind within 7 miles per 100 feet of chimney height with much grounding within the first 1.3 miles in still weather. The power station and oil refineries hence smothered the footprint downwind with PM2.5s. First result was asthma in the children including 38% diagnosed with chronic asthma by age 5 in Whitland compared with only 1% along upwind Cardigan Bay coastline. Hospital admission rates with asthma coding were 17 in Pembroke & 14 in Milford Haven area compared to 1 in Worcestershire. These very fine particles also caused clinical depression (900% in affected area compared with Cardigan Bay ), diabetes, leukaemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, breast and colon cancer, hypothyroidism& arthritis. The Health Effects Institute report of May 2000 proved respiratory & cardiovascular effects of PM2.5s enabling USEPA prosecutions to force cleaner plant. Cancer incidence in the worst footprint is now 800% that of parts of West Sussex . I had a contract on comparing hospital admissions for cancer in high versus low asthma zip-codes. The result showed 20 times the admissions in the high asthma zip-codes. The Welsh coastal cancer incidence is also influenced by radioactive spray/rain emanating from the Irish Sea contaminated by unlimited discharges from Sellafield nuclear facility since 1956. Incidence of leukaemia and some cancers is 4 times higher within the first 1.3 miles from the shoreline.

PAHs (poly aromatic hydrocarbons) damage the p53 gene, which normally prevents growth of blood vessels in any cancer, hence then allowing tumour growth. The same applies to malignant melanoma begun by human caused radioactivity causing mutations, with growth after damage to p53 by certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light. Whenever the power station started up, levels of nickel, vanadium, cadmium, arsenic and chromium zoomed. Nickel causes asthma, disturbances of the heart electrical system, and cancers of lung & ?colon. One school athlete, without allergies, saw her peak flow drop from 510 to 340 from Texaco's emissions and below 210 when the power station emissions grounded. Across areas of the UK I have studied the ambient level of children needing asthma inhalers in least polluted areas averages 3% ( New Zealand 7% with heavier agrochemical use) which can be attributed to OP pesticides affecting the immune system and mould allergy. The level along the coastline prior to the oil industry and OP use was under 1 in 300 children.

The fine lung particulates are mopped up by macrophages with T-lymphocytes involved, but excess particulates result in fibrosis. The inflammatory process goes on for 6 days with release of cytokines etc, which result in stickier blood red cells & platelets hence heart attacks/strokes about day 4. Studies by Schwartz have proven that it is new patients who die years earlier rather than those already terminal. Studies in Southern California etc confirmed that ozone also causes asthma lasting about 30 hours while worsening effects of concurrent PM2.5s. Any fibrosis limits lung development in children obvious after 3 years exposure. Pembrokeshire ozone in summer has exceeded 140ug/m3 weekly average due to NOx conversion in sunlight.


A municipal waste incinerator with ESPS in Sint-Niklaas over a 20year period caused an increase in cancers of 480% and shortening of lifespan averaging 12 years, worst in women. Almost 90% of boys aged 2 to 9 years plus 55% of girls aged 10-15 suffered various illnesses including low birth weight, congenital birth defects, autism, hyperactivity, repeated respiratory infections, allergies, asthma, reduced IQ, gastric sphincter problems, motor disturbances, bone cancer, leukaemia, Hodgkins lymphoma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The Belgian government funded the study including all medical records, soil analysis and questionnaires. The repeated respiratory infections I suspect were the result of T-lymphocyte diversion to the lungs leaving insufficient to handle infections. I note the same surrounding 3 incinerators in the UK , while all meningitis outbreaks have occurred in heavily polluted towns. The emissions of dioxins, PM2.5s and PAHs would have explained all findings. Other findings included headaches (VOCs presumedly), chronic fatigue (?low thyroid and ME/CFS), and loose stools (?MS). Emissions of carbon monoxide or hydrogen sulphide inactivate the cytochrome p450 (mostly in liver) which results in inability of body to detoxify inhaled /ingested toxins leading to immune system unable to cope with Herpes virus (HVV6 associated with multiple sclerosis), Epstein Barr virus (associated with 47% cases of ME) and mycoplasma. (associated with ME/CFS)

Women also suffered endometriosis/hormonal problems found with dioxin exposure. Obesity due to inadequate exercise has been blamed by government for illnesses, as a ruse for diverting blame onto the victim. However depression leads to overeating, while dioxins in milk & environment affect hormones as do lead, mercury, arsenic, manganese & chlorinated solvents. PM2.5 particulates affect insulin/glucose uptake by body cells. Finally, poisoned victims do not feel well enough, and are not fit enough, for active exercise regimes. Pesticides, dioxins & other toxins are hoarded in body fat, being released from time to time. Finally victims of PM2.5/VOC/fluoride emissions often suffer low thyroid function aggravating increase in obesity.


This waste site began taking domestic waste in 1989 then accepted military waste unofficially from around late 1991, commercial waste filter cake and other hazardous matter from 1995. The filter cake had been dumped on another site not far away called Trecatti which accepted hazardous waste from late 1993 where the filter cake generated hydrogen sulphide. The switch to hazardous waste at Trecatti caused the birth defect incidence, perinatal mortality rate and infant mortality rate to all double by 1996 in Merthyr Tydfil , which covers the 3 miles up to the site. The Standardised Mortality rate also increased sharply to 137 by that date (second highest in the UK ). The situation within 3 miles of Nantygwyddon was even worse with evidence of radionucleotides including tritium, caesium, depleted uranium and others, plus (I was told) beryllium having been dumped, with an incomplete liner. Birth defects starting from 1995 soared with almost all being terminated, perinatal mortality doubled, infant mortality rose to near Belarus levels, and SMR rose to 187 by 2001 (from 110 in 1991). Birth defects can be attributed to nucleotides, ethylene oxide measured in the streets plus vinyl & styrene known to be there. Numbers at primary schools there have inevitably dropped 30% in several years. Granulomatous diseases& non-Hodgkins lymphoma victims appeared. Most deaths were from heart attacks, expected with a sharp rise in PM2.5 particulates from the earth moving equipment thrown up over the surrounding 3 miles. Diabetes incidence increased  & eye inflammation soared with H2S levels measured at 50ppm indoors. A survey by myself in 5 schools confirmed symptoms of elevated hydrogen sulphide. The health authority told the Environment Agency to reopen the site when closed by protestors and refused to carry out a health impact assessment, measure PM2.5 levels or examine termination records. I obtained medical records of some with Ganuomatous conditions, and had attic dust analysed confirming beryllium and ingredients of the filter cake dumped. This year the Welsh Assembly closed the site but has only flared off some gasses instead of cleaning them then burning them in a turbine. Flaring is hopeless in high winds, heavy rain or at night due to plume grounding. Other waste sites are little better. Fly-ash from the London Edmonton incinerator laden with dioxins is been mixed with leachate then spread on a Sheffield site exposing the whole city to astronomic levels of dioxins in dry weather. The solution for this mess is to compost sorted waste in a semi-sealed area, burning gasses, and treat the balance by gasification, the temperature within (4000 to 11000 C) depending on content, which produces safe ash plus electricity from a turbine by burning cleaned gasses. The USEPA is now taking this stance.


Steel works such as Port Kembla & Newcastle in Australia often have coking works either adjacent or separate. Following cases of leukaemia in children at these sites, an investigation analysed cancer hospital/GP data plotted out by distance from the works with waste site adjacent. The incidence of all cancer and leukaemia was around 9 times higher within 2 miles of the complexes (chimney plus waste site) than 11 miles away with a steady drop at intervening distances. The overall effect was around a 400% rise in cancers in the risk zone. There was a similar quadrupling of breast cancer incidence around the coking works/waste site in Derbyshire with pancreatic cancer (?from PCBs on site) and rise in other appropriate cancers. Development of these old gas/coking works waste sites within 3 miles of housing causes inevitable rises in asthma in children, cancers and the usual effects of PM2.5 particulates. I had done a survey of North Derbyshire school inhaler use with the MEP and arranged for PM2.5 measurements and analysis of content in 5 schools when the waste site was cleared and prepared for development. Levels of PAC. 5s rose above 150ug/m3 at 2 miles away with high mercury& nickel content but we were staggered to note that cadmium content was equivalent to smoking 300 cigarettes daily. Childhood cancers can arise from pregnant mother exposure to carcinogens (Knox) with growth of cancer enhanced with later exposure to PAHs (or other carcinogens) -p53 effect even if child has moved from original exposure. My asthma inhaler map shows the effects of the opencast coal site also affecting 3 miles. A study at Gwaun Cae Gurwen in Wales showed 33% children with reduced peak flow post exercise at 1 mile from the local opencast, even though the local GP records only recorded 12% as having asthma. A survey I helped organise of London schools near Greenwich in 1996 revealed 11.9% taking asthma inhalers- 3% being background (?OP effect), the rest due to heavy vehicle traffic emissions of PM2.5s. When the dome old gas works site was cleared the asthma incidence in Greenwich rose to 50% as every factor is additive. Workers developed rashes (?nickel, phenols, cobalt) and I dread to estimate the numbers of workers and residents who will develop cancer around 2012.


Children coming from towns downwind of incinerators appear ill with chronic infections almost continuously because of the diversion of T-lymphocytes to the lungs. Those who have had thiomersal (mercury) containing vaccines in early months of life who are short of zinc with concurrent high copper levels, will have difficulty eliminating it from the body due to shortage of metallothionein protein dysfunction. A colleague is investigating 1000 children with autism surrounding the Edmonton London incinerator. He too has found low zinc with high blood/low urine mercury levels. In 7 southern African countries single measles vaccine was administered to 24 million children with a dose of vitamin A to those malnourished. Vitamin A led to higher antibody response noted 5 years later. A double blind study on different doses of vitamin E compared with placebo in USA prior to vaccines revealed that 200 mg (230iu) daily in adults led to a 600% increase in antibody levels. Selenium is also required by the immune and thyroid systems but a non-organic diet has a 30ug/day shortfall. In my clinic we are about to try these supplements when giving single measles vaccine at age over 15 months when the effectiveness is over 96% compared with only 74% for MMR vaccine. In UK circumstances with shortages of zinc & selenium it is little wonder thiomersal containing vaccines cause autism, nor is it unexpected that MMR causes autism in children with diverted T-lymphocytes with immune systems compromised by toxins. Autism was found in 1 child in 86 in a recent UK study, which is about twice the USA incidence. Babies born in March in New York are more prone to autism probably because of exposure of pregnant mothers to the peak smog levels of July/August. MMR-strain measles virus has been found in bowel immune complexes and CSF of autistic children. If the body produces antibodies to mumps virus, and rubella virus ends up in the pancreas to cause diabetes 6 years later, the inactivated measles virus initiates a low grade encephalitis in those with inadequate T-lymphocytes, leading to behaviour disorders especially after lessons or brain exercise -something rife in many UK schools. The NIMR-strain measles virus also contains protein, which can result in antibodies, which may cause cross-reactions with nerve protein. A shortage of any of the 8 essential glyconutrients and/or essential fatty acids makes the brain cells more vulnerable. ADD (attention deficit disorder) has been linked with mineral imbalances including low zinc and high cadmium. Fungicides and Roundup (glyphosate) have resulted in birth defects. Roundup has been linked to a 300% rise in attention deficit disorders. Roundup interferes with StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory protein), which controls not only testosterone production but also adrenal hormone, immune system function and carbohydrate metabolism (weight control). This might explain one reason those who eat organic food (also with higher essential minerals) have 20% lower health service costs found in a German study. It also explains why glyconutrients sometimes may improve brain cell hormone production, while rectifying appetite and some other parameters. Roundup is used on most GM food crops such as soya and corn.

In conclusion, doctors must always consider the cocktail effect and knock-on effects of air pollution while assessing dietary, genetic and hormonal factors in patients.

*There are 335 references accompanying this peer-reviewed published report.  Far too many to publish here but the author will be happy to supply them to interested readers.

Dr Dick van Steenis will be pleased to accept any feedback on his valuable paper.  He may be contacted at his home on 01432 769323 or by e-mail at:


On Saturday 7 August 2004 government finally acknowledged (almost) its wrongness and withdrew the incriminated vaccines.