Studies on the Effect of Municipal Solid Waste Dump Sites on Public Health Essay

An Epidemiological approach in partial fulfillment of the requirement of the award of OD (Doctor of Optometry). By Nwogwugwu Chioma Peace Mat. No. : 04/8131 Department of Optometry, Imo state University, Owerri. Supervised by: Dr. Onome Okereke December, 2009 Table Of content Page 1. 0Introduction3 2. 0About The study4 3. 0The Owerri municipal waste dumping site6 4. 0Environmental pollution and impact of exposure7 5. 0The study findings9 6. 0Conclusion10 7. 0References11 1. Introduction

Over the last three decades there has been increasing global concern over the public health impacts attributed to environmental pollution, in particular, the global burden of disease. The World Health Organization (WHO)1 estimates that about a quarter of the diseases facing mankind today occur due to prolonged exposure to environmental pollution. Most of these environment-related diseases are however not easily detected and may be acquired during childhood and manifested later in adulthood.

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Improper management of solid waste is one of the main causes of environmental pollution and degradation in many cities, especially in developing countries. Many of these cities lack solid waste regulations and proper disposal facilities, including for harmful waste. Such waste may be infectious, toxic or radioactive. Municipal waste dumping sites are designated places set aside for waste disposal. Depending on a city’s level of waste management, such waste may be dumped in an uncontrolled manner, segregated for recycling purposes, or simply burnt.

Poor waste management poses a great challenge to the well-being of city residents, particularly those living adjacent the dumpsites due to the potential of the waste to pollute water, food sources, land, air and vegetation. The poor disposal and handling of waste thus leads to environmental degradation, destruction of the ecosystem and poses great risks to public health. 2. About the Study To emphasize the link between environmental pollution and public health in an urban setting, the Optometry department of Imo state University decided to carry out a study of Owerri municipal waste dumping site, by Ekeonuwa Market in Imo state, Nigeria.

Research was carried out to determine the public health implication of environmental pollution caused by such dumping sites. A total of 150 residents of a particular neighborhood living and schooling adjacent the dumpsite was interviewed. Of these, 40 were advised to go for further laboratory tests that entailed blood and urine sampling to assess the impact of exposure to environmental pollutants from the dumpsite on human health. The flow chart below shows the link between the environmental pollutants from the dumpsite and public health impacts on the adjacent neighborhood.

This link is further explained in this report. The study also showed that poor neighborhoods contribute higher amount of solid waste per capital than the government. Flow Chart of the Public Health Effects brought about by Environmental Pollution emanating from Owerri Waste Dumping Sites b OWERRI WASTE DUMPING SITE • Industrial Waste e. g. , falloff or unused chemicals and raw materials, expired products and substandard goods • Agricultural Waste e. g. , pesticides (herbicides and fungicides) • Hospital Waste e. g. , packaging materials and containers, used syringes nd sharps, biological waste and pharmaceuticals Kenya ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANTS • Possibly Heavy Metals e. g. , lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, zinc, nickel and copper • Possibly Persistent Organic Pollutants e. g. , aldrin, dieldrin, dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), endrin, heptachlor, toxaphene, chlordane, hexachlorobenzene, mirex (organochlorines, organophosphates, carbamates) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) PUBLIC HEALTH EFFECTS • Skin Disorders – Fungal infection, allergic dermatitis, pruritis and skin cancer • Respiratory Abnormalities – bacterial upper respiratory tract infections pharyngitis, laryngitis and rhinitis), chronic bronchitis and asthma • Abdominal and Intestinal Problems – bacterial enteritis, helminthiasis, amoebiasis, liver cancer, kidney and renal failure • Dental Disorders – dental carries and dental pain • Ear Infections – otitis media and bacterial infections • Skeletal Muscular Systems – back pain • Central Nervous System – impairment of neurological development, peripheral nerve damage and headaches • Eye Infections – allergic conjunctivitis, bacterial eye infections • Blood Disorders – Iron deficiency anaemia Others – malaria, chicken pox, septic wounds and congenital abnormalities, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer ROUTES OF EXPOSURE • Inhalation – movement of air from the external environment through the airways during breathing • Ingestion – the consumption of a substance by an organism either man or animals • Absorption – the movement and uptake of substances into cells or across tissues such as skin by way of diffusion or osmosis These toxicants can be found in air, water and soil and could find their way into the human body through 3. The Owerri Municipal Waste Dumping Site

The Ekeonuwa market waste dumping site is located right in front of it, along Douglas Road, in Owerri, Imo state. It is the main dumping site for most of the solid waste generated from the market and its environs. Surrounding the dump are traders, school children, passerby, bus drivers and its occupants, road side hawkers just by the dump, etc. Over 10 Tonnes of waste is generated from the market on a weekly basis into the dumpsite and what is supposed to be the containers for the dump is usually buried under dirt. Ekeonuwa Market dump site. 4. Environmental Pollution and Impacts of Exposure

Heavy metals are metallic elements that are present in both natural and contaminated environments. In natural environments, they occur at low concentrations. However at high concentrations as is the case in contaminated environments, they result in public health impacts. The elements that are of concern include lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, zinc, nickel and copper. Heavy metals may be released into the environment from metal smelting and refining industries, scrap metal, plastic and rubber industries, various consumer products and from burning of waste containing these elements.

On release to the air, the elements travel for large distances and are deposited onto the soil, vegetation and water depending on their density. Once deposited, these metals are not degraded and persist in the environment for many years poisoning humans through inhalation, ingestion and skin absorbtion. Acute exposure leads to nausea, anorexia, vomiting, gastrointestinal abnormalities and dermatitis. Table 1 below shows the sources, risk levels and health effects from exposure to these heavy metals.

Table 1: Toxic heavy metals with established health effects2 Heavy Metal| Sources of Environmental exposure| Minimum Risk level| Chronic exposuretoxicity effects| Lead| Industrial, vehicularemissions, paints andburning of plastics,papers, etc. | Blood lead levelsbelow 10 ? g/dl ofblood*| Impairment of neurologicaldevelopment,suppression ofthe haematologicalsystem and kidneyfailure| Mercury| Electronics, plasticwaste, pesticides,pharmaceutical anddental waste| Below 10 ? g/dl ofblood*Oral exposure of4mg/kg/day**| Gastro-intestinaldisorders, respiratorytract irritation, renalfailure and neurotoxicity| Cadmium|

Electronics, plastics,batteries and contaminatedwater| Below 1 ? g/dl ofblood*| Irritation of the lungsand gastrointestinaltract, kidney damage,abnormalities of theskeletal system andcancer of the lungsand prostate| ?g/dl*: micrograms per decilitre of blood mg/kg**: milligrams per kilogram On the other hand, persistent organic pollutants are long-lasting nonbiodegradable organic compounds that accumulate in the food chain, especially fish and livestock, and pose serious health risks to humans. They dissolve poorly in water and are readily stored in fatty tissue hence may be passed to infants through breast milk.

These chemicals include: aldrin, dieldrin, dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), endrin, heptachlor, toxaphene, chlordane, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) all of which are to be phased out and/or eliminated under the international environmental agreements. 5. The Study Findings Impacts on Public Health From the environmental evaluation conducted, it was determined that the dumpsite exposes the residents around it to unacceptable levels of environmental pollutants with adverse health impacts.

A high number of children and adolescents living around the dumping site had illnesses related to the respiratory, gastrointestinal and dermatological systems such as upper respiratory tract infections, chronic bronchitis, asthma, fungal infections, allergic and unspecified dermatitis/pruritis – Inflammation and itchiness of the skin. Table 2 below summarizes the health results of the 150 person were interviewed. Table 2: Impacts on Public Health and Systems Affected System affected| No. of Person| % with disorders| Dermatological(skin disorders)| 48| 14. | Respiratory| 42| 46. 9| Gastroenteritis (GE)(abdominal andintestinal problems)| 59| 17. 9| Dental disorders| 31| 9. 5| Oto (affecting the hearing system)| 15| 4. 6| Skeletal /muscular systems| 8| 2. 4| Central nervous system| 7| 2. 13| Eye infections| 32| 9. 8| Blood (anaemia)| 1| 0. 3| Others*| 21| 6. 4| Normal| 26| 7. 9| Others*: malaria, chicken pox, septic wounds, congenital abnormalities, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer 6. Conclusion This pilot study has linked environmental pollution to public health.

Investigation from the interviews has been analysed showing that environmental pollution, has serious effect on the populace. At the same time, a physical evaluation of some of the children resulted in advising them to be taken for medical check. We hope that this study will be used to effect the necessary changes needed to upgrade our waste management system, while calling on individual to protect their health by taking all precaution when in such environments, especially near the dump site.

Government should fortify its environmental protection agency (FEPA). This needed fortification will enable FEPA3 meet its targeted policies of making itself felt in Every home, every industrial establishment, in fact, everywhere so that Nigeria could achieve industrialization without environmental degradation. References: 1. WHO 2. Austroplan Nigeria Ltd. (1992). Compost recycling industry. 3. Aina, E. O. (1991) Environmental problems, Nigeria Environment-FEPA newsletter. Pages 3 (2) 6-7. 4. www. google. com 5. Encyclopeadia. Photo:


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