Potential for effects of land contamination on human health. 2. The case of waste disposal sites

Melanie Kah, Len Levy, Colin David Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


This review of the epidemiological literature shows that there is no compelling evidence for negative impacts of land contaminated by waste disposal on human health. However, the potential for health impacts cannot be dismissed. Several recent multiple-site studies support a plausible linkage between residence near waste disposal sites and reproductive effects (including congenital anomalies and low birth weight). There is some conflict in the literature investigating links between land contamination and cancers; the evidence for and against a link is equally balanced and is insufficient to demonstrate causal inferences. Those are difficult to establish because of possible biases from incomplete case ascertainment, lack of data on individual-level exposures, and other socioeconomic and lifestyle factors that may confound a relationship with area of residence. Further insights on health effects of land contamination are likely to be gained from studies that consider exposure pathways and biomarkers of exposure and effect, similarly those deployed with some success in investigating impacts of cadmium on human health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-467
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B: Critical Reviews
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2012

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