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Health Risks for Residents that Cannot be Ignored

The original stated intent of the Developers was to make available much needed “affordable housing” to lower income families in Penticton. Due to infrastructure and development costs this has never been feasible and it has become clear the cheapest houses will likely be well in excess of $1,000,000. This results in a second problem for the Developer which is how to attract potential higher income home buyers to live in close proximity to the city landfill with all its associated odours, wind-blown garbage and most importantly, health risks.

There is a strong association between Hydrogen Sulphide, used as a surrogate for all pollutants co-emitted from the landfills, and deaths caused by lung cancer, as well as deaths and hospitalizations for respiratory diseases. The results were especially prominent in children.

Health Concerns

A question the City of Penticton needs to address is why build there when studies clearly show the detrimental health hazards of living next to a landfill? There are other areas to develop that are consistent with the Official Community Plan and do not jeopardize the health of residents.

The following studies are just a few examples:

Nuisances associated with living near a landfill: dust, gas, noise, water pollution, odour.

Living near a landfill could damage your health[1]- Oxford University 2016. There is a strong association between Hydrogen Sulphide (used as a surrogate for all pollutants co-emitted from the landfills) and deaths caused by lung cancer, as well as deaths and hospitalizations for respiratory diseases. The results were especially prominent in children.

Respiratory symptoms were detected among residents living close to waste sites. These were linked to inhalation exposure to endotoxins, microorganisms, and aerosols from waste collection and land filling. This is consistent with other studies.

Impact of Landfill Waste on Health[2]: An Overview

Gases released from landfill sites are the main factor in polluting the environment and one of the leading hazardous effects on health as Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) cause various types of Cancer and birth problems. Gases generated by landfill waste are generally methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide etc. Local people are exposed to these gases via inhalation of air born emissions or dust.

Nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide act as irritants, their exposure can produce inflammation & bronchoconstriction and can affect immune cells. Hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride are irritants to mucosa membrane and deposit in the nose and upper respiratory tract which causes cough, chest tightness & breathlessness.

IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) documented that from landfill sites a wide range of waste degradation products are released into the environment in the form of gases like methane, carbon dioxide, traces of hydrogen sulphide, VOCs and metal vapours (e.g.) Cadmium are carcinogenic to humans.

The source of odour is leachate, landfill gases, and deposited material. From this odour many health problems, include irritation of skin, nose & eyes, allergies, psychological disorders, headache, fatigue, nausea and gastrointestinal problems occurs.

Five studies that were undertaken to assess the potential health effects of landfill gas exposure over the long term.[3]

A statistical analysis found that among men living in the exposure zone closest to the site, elevated risks were observed for cancers of the prostate, stomach, liver, and lungs. Among women, rates of stomach cancer and cervix uteri cancer were elevated. The study concluded that there was a small, but significant, increased risk of birth defects to babies whose mothers lived within 3 km of a hazardous waste landfill.

Important Things to Know About Landfill Gas (NY State Department of Health)[4]

Landfill gases can move from a landfill through soil into outdoor air as well as the indoor air of nearby buildings. Landfill gases in outdoor air can enter a building through windows, doors, and ventilation systems.

In soil, landfill gases can migrate and enter a building through cracks in the basement floors and walls, utility entry points (e.g., where underground water or electrical lines enter a building), sump pump holes or floor drains. This is called soil vapor intrusion. Once they enter a building, landfill gases may collect in areas of poor ventilation, such as basements, crawlspaces, and utility tunnels.

How trash impacts health – World Day Feb 2019[5] The more emissions that we produce due to how much trash we generate, affects us long term. One can develop diseases such as asthma, birth defects, cancer, cardiovascular disease, childhood cancer, COPD, infectious diseases, low birth weight, and preterm delivery. Bacteria, vermin and insects can also be added to the problem that trash causes.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle, March 22, 2015 [6] Why the neighborhood next to an old landfill may cost Bozeman millions:

"Test results show that small amounts of potentially dangerous gases are seeping from the landfill onto adjacent land and many of the neighborhood’s residents are living in fear of what some have termed, in legal filings, as a “plume of toxic chemicals” flowing beneath their homes."

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard to imagine how Bozeman’s development review process, which is statutorily obligated to consider “effects on public health and safety,” could have failed to prevent what now appears to be one of the most unfortunate development decisions in the city’s history.

What do concerned Penticton residents want the City to do?

To strive towards protection of the health and safety of all residents, visitors and creatures by enforcing a 500-meter buffer zone around the Landfill in accordance with Provincial regulations and recommendations from RDOS.


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