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Issue 39
, 2013
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Don't burn your waste, deal with it, say experts

Source: Times of India, Date: , 2013

NAGPUR: Pollution and pollutants have surrounded us from all sides. But did you know that even the air inside your home could be full of pollutants that can harm your health? The unintentional persistent organic pollutants (POP), which are released by open burning of garbage and vehicular emissions among other things, are the new dangers that experts are warning against.

As scientists from all over the country met at National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), they discussed ways to deal with POPs.

Neeri is the regional centre assigned for Asia under the Stockholm Convention whose Regional Stakeholders Meet on dioxins and furans organized by Neeri and environmental NGO Toxics Link brought these experts together. The one day meet had participation of scientists, NGOs and industries. It aimed to promote effective monitoring and management system for control of POPs and develop future strategy and roadmap for the countries of Asia.

"Burning waste in the open is the primary source of the emerging pollutants dioxins and furans in India. This could be avoided if the country were to develop and utilize technologies to recycle what can be and dispose the waste that can not be recycled in a proper way. Also, people must be made aware of these methods," said Stish Sinha, associate director of Toxics Link. He also said that there is a need to create awareness about dioxins and furans in the public domain to control open burning.

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) scientist Sharad Kale said that there were a lot of radioactive substances in our surroundings which also need to be dealt with. "We have to understand the degeneration of these substances in the ecosystem. Increased use of pesticides also results in release of dioxins and furans," he informed.

Burning of garbage in the open releases chlorinated metals that circulate in the air and reach the insides of homes and offices, too, said programme co-ordinator and Neeri scientist Asha Juwarkar. "These are known to be carcinogens and allergens. The safe way to incinerate waste is to burn it at a temperature that is above 900 degrees Centigrade. However, when we burn it in the open, the temperature is somewhere between 100 degrees and 150 degrees," she said.

She also pointed out that these substances also enter our food chain and can cause health issues like liver diseases, impairment of the immune system, endocrine system and reproductive system. She insisted that we should reduce, recycle and reuse our waste as far as possible.

Don't burn...

Garbage, lumber and pallets, treated wood, tyres, paper products like newspapers, wires, asphalt, plastic, synthetics, heavy oil, paints, household and agricultural chemicals

Burning ok for.. Bonfires, cooking, managing forests or wildlife habitats, controlling agricultural pests or diseases

Avoid burning.. Disposable items, Buy durable products which can be recharged, refilled and reused, Buy products in bulk instead of small serving individually wrapped items

Reuse things by repairing them and/or donating it for charities

Recycle: Turn things that would something valuable otherwise. Compost the organic waste. Disposal at landfill sites. Contact local solid waste facility.