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Environmental Effects of Poor Waste Management

Traditionally, health and safety have been the major concerns in the management of the solid waste eventual effective disposal. However, society now demands more than this: that the solid waste management system should consider both short- and long-term effects on the environment (including conservation of resources and prevention of pollution), and the system should be reliable and environmentally compatible. Biodegradable organic materials attract  rats, flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, pigs, birds and other vectors which can transfer human and animal diseases to the human population. They also emit greenhouse gases (predominantly methane and carbon dioxide ) in the transformation processes. Methane is estimated to be approximately 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide on a volume basis (USEPA, 1994) and therefore methane is very significant with respect to climate change.

The waste material also often contains broken glass and other sharp objects which are potentially dangerous to people coming in contact with this waste. Hanks (1967) and Techobanoglous et al. (1993) traced the relationship of 22  human diseases to inadequate solid waste management. Diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, salmonellosis, plague, hepatitis, chronic respiratory diseases that can spread due to poor management of solid waste. Thus unhygienically disposed waste in urban areas poses a serious health hazard to urban dwellers, particularly to the poorest of the poor, waste workers and scavenging solid waste as a source of income   in lower middle class countries.

mismanagement of solid waste

Mismanagement of solid waste can cause health hazard

The mismanagement of solid waste also affects the productivity and other infrastructure. The major risks associated with poor management of solid waste include the spread  of diseases, overall environment pollution (air, water, soil) including emission of greenhouse gases, effects on other infrastructure, and physical, chemical, and fire and explosion  hazards. The physical and chemical hazard generally included dangers associated with direct contact with sharps and/or infected  sharps use of certain toxic  chemical/solution, risks of explosion and fire hazards of certain solvents.

Financial It gives an indication that the management of solid waste absorbs a huge amount of the municipal budgets, and the cost of public cleansing, transportation, and transfer is much higher in low- and middle- income countries compared with that of industrial countries. The optimization of productivity of collection vehicles and workers involved in public cleansing and  collection services can improved the situation to achieve greater efficiency and cutting the cost of solid waste management system. There is also indirect financial loss involving the costs associated with the environmental damage.