There is a direct link between emissions from the Tata Steel plant in IJmuiden and the health of people who live in the locality, the public health institute RIVM said in a new report on Friday.
In addition, the biggest benefit to the health of people living in the IJmond region would be to reduce the exposure to pollution from Tata Steel, the RIVM said.
The claim is based on a string of reports on the link between emissions from the plant and public health. For example, 80% of Wijk aan Zee residents experience smell, dust and noise nuisance from the plant and their life expectancy is 2.5 months lower because of this, the RIVM said.
Exposure to fine particulate pollution also increases the risk of developing lung cancer and is responsible for around 4% of new cases a year. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide increases the risk of developing asthma and is involved in about 3% of new cases in children, the health agency said.
The RIVM says it calculated how much of the Tata Steel emissions end up in the environment and used this as a basis to determine the consequences for the health of local residents. It then established the percentage of local residents who experience noise, smell and dust nuisance.
People living in Wijk aan Zee suffer the greatest impact and the effects become less pronounced further away from the Tata Steel site, the report said.
The RIVM study concentrated on dust, smell and noise nuisance as well as airborne emissions of fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, PAHs and lead – all of which are known to be harmful to health.
People living near Tata Steel are exposed to a variety of these substances at the same time, which may have multiple effects, the RIVM said, adding that it is important to carry out further investigation into the cumulative effects.
Tata Steel said in a statement that the report shows its emissions meet legal limits. “We have taken a large number of measures in recent years to further reduce our impact on the environment and the nuisance people experience. And we will continue to do,” the company said.
Last month it emerged that 1,400 people who live close to plant have signed up for a mass claim against the company, saying they are facing problems because of pollution, noise, poor air quality and smell.
The public prosecution department has also launched a criminal investigation into Tata Steel for deliberately polluting the soil, air and surface water. The results of that investigation, which followed a complaint brought by lawyers on behalf of 800 locals and a number of interest groups, are due later this year.
Tata Steel Nederland has a direct workforce of some 11,000, of whom 9,000 work in IJmuiden, but provides work for thousands more in spin-off industries.