Watch what you breathe

Watch what you breathe
The High Court ban on burning garbage has seemingly not deterred people from setting waste on fire. It is not just the residents in several parts of the City who resort to burning garbage in the open.  Ironically, even those who are tasked with removing the garbage from various localities end up setting them on fire.

Although, burning garbage is said to attract a fine, garbage continues to be burnt, sending billows of toxic chemicals into the air. Most people say that the BBMP has no rule in place to rein in the practice. This also raises the other important issue why people are not segregating garbage despite the rule mandating it. Deeptha, a resident of Sarjapur, asserts that garbage is being burnt because it is not being segregated at source. She says that she has to pass a huge garbage dump to get to her house which is located in a gated community on Sarjapur Main Road. “It is terrible to pass through the area when garbage is set on fire. The effect is not so severe if I am in a car but if I am in an auto, it is very suffocating,” she says.

People must make an effort to dispose of waste as per the rules, feels Uttara Kumar, a resident of Jalahalli. He points out that it is BBMP workers who regularly dump and burn garbage in the area.“Far from segregating garbage, people don’t pause to think about the ill-effects of garbage burning.  Although, this is banned, people continue to do it without any fear because of poor enforcement,” he says. He says even some residents resort to it. “We have carried out several drives and awareness programmes on the harmful effects of burning garbage but people continue to do so without shame or regret. It is sad that not many people care about the environment,” he adds.

Even youngsters like Harsh C have a strong take on the issue. He says, “While the issue of burning of waste is not visible in the heart of the City, we see a few cases in the interiors. This releases a lot of toxic and harmful chemicals into the air which triggers long-term health problems such as asthma, breathing difficulties and skin allergies,” says Harsh.
Medical practitioners have been talking about the dangers of burning garbage and why it must be stopped at once.

Dr H Paramesh, a Paediatric Pulmonologist, environmentalist and Chairman of New Sirona Center for Health Promotion, points out that burning of garbage primarily releases two toxic gases — Dioxins and furans that are especially dangerous. “When inhaled as gases, Hydrochloric acid can form in the lungs. This acid could cause ulcers in respiratory tracts. Dioxins and furans are two of the most toxic chemicals known among all man-made toxic chemicals. Even the smallest doses of the chemicals can cause problems,” he explains.

He points out that when these particles are inhaled, they collect in the throat and nose. “The larger particles can be eliminated by coughing, sneezing or  spitting but the smaller ones which are 2.5 microns go straight to the heart or could even accumulate in the lungs. This could lead to bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma,” he adds.

Those who practise segregation like Mallika K, a chemistry professor who lives in Agara, near Horamavu, says she finds it disturbing to see people burning garbage in the open. “Garbage that is not segregated has plastic content in it and releases poisonous gas when it is burnt. This pollutes the atmosphere and the toxic gases remain in the air and don’t disappear so easily,” she explains. She feels that one should be more sensitive to the environment and make a conscious effort to stop burning garbage.

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