Emissions feared to trigger health crisis

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CSIR-NIIST team studies ambient air and residual ash on plant premises

A team from CSIR-NIIST in Thiruvananthapuram has reported that dioxin emissions from the fire at the Kochi Corporation’s Brahmapuram solid waste treatment plant will have an adverse impact on the health of city residents.

The team had carried out the sampling of ambient air and residual ash from the premises of the plant after the fire on February 22.

The team will submit its report to the relevant authorities and also make it available for the public, according to a release.

Public concern

K.P. Prathish, who led the team, said the concerns of the public and the scientific community were very valid in view of the possible emissions of highly toxic chemicals like dioxins, furans, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The team is now working to quantify the levels of toxic dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs emitted during the fire. The team pointed out that an important source of dioxin emission was the open burning of municipal solid waste (MSW) which is a widely-practised unscientific method of waste disposal in the country.

Kerala generates more than 10,000 tonnes of waste every day and faces a crisis in the management of MSWs due to the absence of organised waste collection, transportation, treatment and disposal systems, it said.

With no alternatives in place, citizens are forced to find their own solutions to dispose waste such as by open burning. It is reported elsewhere that the emission of dioxins and furans is much higher during open burning of wastes in comparison to well-engineered high-temperature waste incinerators, according to the communication.

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