Since the mid-nineties new waste incineration plants have come into operation in the Netherlands. Burning of waste can result in the emission of potentially toxic compounds. Although the incineration plants must comply with strict conditions concerning emission control, public concern on the possible impact on human health and the environment still exists. Multiple year (2004–2013) biomonitoring programs were set up around three waste incinerators for early detection of possible effects of stack emissions on the quality of crops and agricultural products. The results showed that the emissions did not affect the quality of crops and cow milk. Concentrations of heavy metals, PAHs and dioxins/PCBs were generally similar to background levels and did not exceed standards for maximum allowable concentrations in foodstuffs (e.g. vegetables and cow milk). Some exceedances of the fluoride standard for cattle feed were found almost every year in the maximum deposition areas of two incinerators. Biomonitoring with leafy vegetables can be used to monitor the real impact of these emissions on agricultural crops and to communicate with all stakeholders.
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