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The Physicians Committee



Covance Discusses Incinerator With Officials; PCRM Releases Report About Dangers

Covance Laboratories, a contract animal-testing company seeking to build a large facility in Chandler, Ariz., has taken the first steps to obtain permission from the county for an incinerator to dispose of toxic animal carcasses. In response, PCRM has released a report by Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., describing the possible dangers such an incinerator would pose to the citizens of Chandler.

According to PCRM’s report, the Covance incinerator would be a first for Chandler. While there are multiple crematories in Maricopa County, a Covance incinerator will likely differ from other county incinerators in two important ways. First, it is expected to burn much larger volumes of animal carcasses than the existing crematories, perhaps in addition to other associated medical wastes. Studies suggest that there are hazards unique to animal carcass incinerators. They may be more likely to emit toxins such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and certain heavy metals such as lead, zinc, and iron than other types of incinerators. Second, a Covance incinerator will likely burn animal carcasses containing concentrated levels of industrial chemicals, insecticides, pesticides, and experimental drugs.

Individuals living near incinerators could be exposed to toxic chemicals through inhalation of contaminated air, skin contact with or ingestion of contaminated soil, and consumption of contaminated food or water. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, subsistence farmers, and those with respiratory, immune, or cardiovascular disorders are especially vulnerable to related health problems.

“Covance’s planned incinerator will likely burn thousands of dead animals who had been used to test toxic substances, and these emissions could endanger the health of people in Chandler and all over Maricopa County,” Dr. Akhtar said.



 

PCRM Online, December 2006

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