Pollution watchdog warns vs open trash burning
MANILA, Philippines—A pollution watchdog group has urged local government units to enforce the nationwide ban on open trash burning, describing it as a “silent killer” that brings significant health and environmental risks.
In a statement, EcoWaste Coalition on Thursday reiterated the hazards of open trash burning, which is an environmental offense under the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
“Despite the explicit prohibition [under] two of the nation’s foremost environmental [laws], this silent killer continues to haunt our communities in the cities and countryside,” said EcoWaste’s zero waste campaigner Tin Vergara.
“We therefore appeal to all local government units to enforce the ban,” she added.
Heightened action against open burning on the part of local governments would support the Integrated Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) project implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and funded by the World Bank’s Global Environment Facility which seeks to reduce dangerous emissions from the burning of trash, the group said.
“Open burning produces loads of dangerous byproduct pollutants that are linked to a long list of health issues, from headaches, eye, throat and skin irritation, asthma and heart attacks to cancers,” Vergara said.
Some of the pollutants belong to a family of extremely harmful chemicals known as POPs, including cancer-causing dioxins and furans which result from the burning of chlorinated materials.
Dioxins and furans are known to be toxic at extremely low doses.
Apart from POPs, open burning generates other contaminants, including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, heavy metals like cadmium, lead and mercury, and particulate matter, Vergara said.
“Microscopic particulate matter can be absorbed deep into the lungs, causing coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath, and exacerbating respiratory and heart diseases,” she said.
Moreover, open burning does not only pollute the human body, but also food sources, she said.
Pollutants from burned trash fall on leafy plants eaten by farm animals and ingested by fish, contaminating the food chain.
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