Toxic Waste Dumping: How does it affect us? – Part 2
Posted on: January 10, 2018.

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Furthermore, health and environmental risks of unimaginable proportions are posed when untreated effluents from pharmaceutical companies seep into the groundwater, and subsequently make their way into drinking water supply and agricultural land. Incidentally, the metallo-beta-lactamase superbug (NDM-1)—a bacteria, first found in New Delhi’s public water supply in 2008—is resistant to almost all known antibiotics, and has spread to over 70 countries in the world.

A major city in South India—which accounts for one-fifth of the pharma products produced in the country, and regarded as one of the world’s most important manufacturing destinations for pharma products—has a notorious practice for releasing pharmaceutical waste, including Active Pharma Ingredients (API), into the environment i.e. rivers, lakes, ponds, etc, without treatment at its source.

Consequently, there was discernable increase in abortion rates, birth defects, and stunted growth in children, as well as greater incidence of skin diseases in the region with several villages reporting many serious human and livestock health issues including miscarriages, skin disorders, cancers, and intestinal problems.

Furthermore, food grown in such villages is unfit for human consumption. An inspection report published by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in November 2015 noted that most companies in that region were manufacturing pharmaceutical ingredients, for which they did not have permission, and using more water and dumping more hazardous waste than permitted. Two of the units were found to be operating without clearance from authorities.

Handling hazardous waste using the same methods to collect and transport dry or wet domestic waste only results in further problems with segregating and recycling the same. Another contributing problem to this issue is that most waste collectors are unwittingly habituated to burning waste in uncontrollable temperature due to the absence of a proper incineration infrastructure. “Waste collectors are also often unaware of the serious impacts of burning hazardous waste due to little or no knowledge of its composition”, says A.B. Akolkar, Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board.

Waste can be effectively managed by,

  • Introducing waste segregation at source
  • Composting
  • Reusing and recycling
  • Segregating and treating waste properly

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