Toxic household wastes are serious health hazard

Toxic household wastes are serious health hazard

NEW DELHI: A recent study conducted by Toxics Link has unveiled alarming statistics regarding the mishandling of Domestic Hazardous Waste (DHW) across Indian households and its subsequent impact on public health and the environment. The study highlights significant gaps in waste management practices, shedding light on widespread behaviours that contribute to environmental degradation and health hazards.

Key findings from the study reveal that a staggering 8 per cent of households nationwide prefer to dispose of their Domestic Hazardous Mixed Waste (HBMW) alongside regular household waste, with the figure soaring to 13 per cent in Delhi alone. Moreover, a concerning 53 per cent of households discard mercury-based thermometers irresponsibly, while over 50 per cent dispose of fluorescent bulbs and tube lights improperly, further compounding the environmental risks.

The report also underscores critical lapses in awareness and safety measures among waste workers. Shockingly, 38% of these workers are unaware of the health risks associated with mishandling DHW, with only 10% using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits. Delhi emerges as a hotspot of inadequate awareness, with 26 per cent of waste workers expressing no concerns about collecting DHW mixed with regular waste. In response to these findings, experts advocate for urgent regulatory reforms. Recommendations include bridging regulatory gaps, strengthening inter-agency coordination, and increasing penalties for non-compliance. There is a call to ramp up public awareness campaigns on proper waste segregation and to improve waste collection infrastructure, particularly in rural areas.

Satish Sinha, Associate Director of Toxics Link, emphasised the need for comprehensive measures to mitigate the escalating risks posed by DHW. He stressed, “With rapid urbanisation and changing lifestyles, the volume of domestic hazardous waste is escalating, necessitating robust systems to protect both the environment and public health.” The study concludes by urging greater commitment from stakeholders to implement sustainable solutions that safeguard communities and ecosystems from the adverse impacts of improper DHW disposal.

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