Human populations and animals are often exposed to the airborne pollutants in plumes from incinerators. The incineration of chemical and other waste may release polychlorinated hydrocarbons, some of which have oestrogenic properties. Increased numbers of twins had been reported anecdotally in cattle at risk from plumes from two incinerators near the town of Bonnybridge in central Scotland and also in cattle near a chemical factory in Eire. It was decided to follow up these reports in central Scotland and also to test the hypothesis that the frequency of human twinning might be increased there. Data on human twin and single births in hospitals in central Scotland were obtained for the years 1975-83. The twinning rates in areas exposed to airborne pollution from incinerators were compared with the background rates present in neighbouring areas. Farmers provided information on calving among the herds of two farms close to the incinerators. The frequency of human twinning was increased, particularly after 1979, in the areas most at risk from air pollution from the incinerators. Among the dairy cattle, there was a dramatic increase in twinning at about the same time.
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