There is now a substantial body of evidence that particulate pollution (largely from traffic – whether uncombusted fuel or ground off tyres and brake discs) is a danger to human health
“Long-term exposure to air pollution may have contributed to all 15,800 deaths due to cardiovascular causes in London in 2009 (i.e. one in three of all deaths) at an average additional loss of life for each of these adults of some three years at typical ages (e.g. 15% below age 65) New scientific research indicates that children exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution at school and home are at increased risk of developing asthma.”http://www.cleanairinlondon.org/
Edinburgh University scientists found minuscule particles produced by burning diesel can increase the chance of blood clots forming in arteries...It was found that the particles, and not the gases, impaired the function of blood vessels...Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "We've known for a long time that air pollution is a major heart health issue..."http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-14152045
"Exposure to traffic pollution is stunting the growth of children's lungs, cutting their breathing power by up to 17%, a study has found. Researchers from the Royal London hospital have linked the damage in apparently healthy children living in inner cities to particulates, tiny particles contained in exhaust fumes..." Sunday Times, 22/04/12 p6.
Hatfield is home to several major transport depots (Parcelforce, DHL, Ocado, CityLink, Yodel), and the Uno bus garage. In addition, Arla Foods has recently announced its intentions to build a food distribution centre in Hatfield (WHT 14/12/11 p.72). Plus, the Tesco depot (on the Welham Green side of Travellers Lane) is only accessible by road from Hatfield. These are in addition to the A1M which runs through the town via the tunnel.
A build up of pollution (which happens particularly in summer months when its warm and there is little or no breeze) over Hatfield will affect other areas in the Borough as particles either diffuse into the surrounding less polluted air or it moves like a plume by air currents. Unfortunately, the air quality monitoring station is located in WGC so there will be no early warning.
Conservative-controlled Hertfordshire County Council's plans for a massive incinerator at New Barnfield will only worsen the situation (through HGV traffic to and from the site, and the incinerator's own emissions). And the air quality in the Borough could potentially be affected by other existing and planned /proposed facilities, like Edmonton (London EcoWaste Park) and Fieldes Lane, Hoddesdon (which are close as the crow flies).
There are already issues with the air quality in Hatfield – according to Veolia’s Health Impact Assessment (p.57) measurements carried out at the de Havilland School between December 2010 and August 2011 showed higher than expected readings – it explains this as being due to weather conditions leading to a cap of still air which trapped the pollutants (p.58).
Incinerator emissions pose an added dimension to the threat:
"Chingford Green Ward has the second highest number of child deaths relative to its population in the whole of London, according to the most recent figures. Infant mortality rates are usually found in areas of high deprivation but Chingford Green Ward is the second richest part of the borough. The ward is close to Britain's largest incinerator in Edmonton and one researcher, Michael Ryan, says he has gathered evidence from across the country that areas situated where toxic emissions start to fall to the ground have a high rate of child deaths."http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/wfnews/1592749.Concerns_over_infant_death_rates_in_Chingford_Green/
"Figures from the Office of National Statistics show a jump in infant deaths in Great Lever - where the Raikes Lane waste plant incinerator is based. The Royal Bolton Hospital is also on the edge of the ward boundary. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) does not believe incinerators cause “significant risk”, but is now looking to reassure the public with a special study."http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/districtnews/9079433.Waste_incinerators_inquiry_into_link_with_infant_deaths/Unless the authorities start taking action apart from the physical cost (and damage to people's lives) there will be an added tax burden - EU fines, rising NHS and other ill-heath benefit costs...at a time when we cannot afford it.
"In addition, the new EU air quality directive will force the UK to reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution on some of the capital's busiest streets by more than a third by the end of 2009, in order to move towards World Health Organisation guidelines. If air quality improvements are not achieved quickly, the UK could be taken to the European court. The court has powers to impose unlimited fines."http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/aug/26/pollution.boris
“If the UK adopted the US Clean Air Act of 1997 we could easily reduce the annual NHS bill by £24 billion. The US saved $193 billion just from reduced hospital visits and days off work according to the White House Office of Management and Budget report which was featured in the Washington Post, 27 September 2003."http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmenvfru/780/780we14.htm
It is worth noting that this is not simply a question of stopping the incinerator - it is a global problem that requires a global solution. Keep an eye out when watching the news it's clear to see that the build up of smog in India and China is getting as bad, if not worse than Los Angeles (I've seen it, several years ago, in the mountains of Switzerland and off the Greek coast when it was clearly too hot for it to be fog or mist).