Burning waste is hazardous

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ENVIRONMENTAL degradation is as a result of many factors, including burning of waste in open spaces.

This is why local authorities have  made it illegal for communities to burn garbage in their yards or communal places.

San Vibol, a lecturer of environmental studies at the Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia once said that, “Every time there is a waste burning activity, whether it is caused by humans or is a natural occurrence, it puts pollutants like carbon dioxide, mercury and acid into the atmosphere. These chemicals damage the environment and can cause a lot of different respiratory diseases.”

It is indeed true that these days, most people like to burn waste because they see it as the easiest, fastest and cheaper method of rubbish disposal. Burning may indeed be an expedient way to clean up waste or dump sites, but it infact causes more harm than good to both the environment and human beings.

Burning waste causes the emission of toxic gases which pollute the environment around and is hazardous to human health.

The emitted smoke can also spread around the atmosphere, and once it gathers up in the air, it will easily precipitate in the form of acid rain, thereby damaging trees and polluting water systems.

As usual, most people do not still pay attention to the wider issues of public health and environmental damage caused by the burning of waste until their health is affected.

The recycle and re-use of waste, or collection and depositing at designated dump sites, so far remains the best method to creating a clean and safe environment which promotes healthy human living.

People can also turn some kinds of household waste into food for livestock or organic fertilizer. What is key, in our view, is to ensure that the people, especially the younger ones, are sensitized on how waste can be a money-spinner through recycling it into usable products.

The decision by marketeers at Lusaka’s Kaunda Square Stage II township to resort to burning of waste is not only wrong but it’s also a danger to their health, the environment and the rest of the people in the area.

Of course we know that some officials would rather take shortcuts to disposing off the waste from the market and spend the money contributed for the purpose of waste collection elsewhere. But we wish to also remind them that open burning of waste is a prosecutable offence under the Zamban Laws.

What is of great concern though is the fact that such malpractices are being perpetrated at a facility which is managed by the local authority – the institution responsible for promoting waste collection and the general cleanliness of the communities. As clearly stated by the Lusaka Council Assistant Public Relations Manager Brendah Katongola, “As a council, we are mandated to collect waste from our markets. We cannot shoot ourselves in the foot by burning the garbage.”

That’s exactly the action we would also expect from the market managers and cooperatives – ensuring that the markets and their surroundings are always kept clean through collection of all generated waste and depositing it at designated dump sites. Not burning it, as is slowly becoming the trend at the Kaunda Square Stage II Market.

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