An environmentalist, Mrs. Titi Oguntoye, says that burning domestic wastes including plastic wastes could cause long term health hazards.

Oguntoye, who works with the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Ibadan, said this in an interview on Wednesday.

“Open burning of waste is a dangerous practice that is increasingly common especially during the dry season.

“Open burning of waste including plastics and polythene bags may pose serious health consequences to people.

“Pollutants produced by burning of domestic refuse are released primarily into the air where they are easily inhaled.

“The toxic chemicals released during burning include nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and toxic chemicals such as dioxin and polyaromatic hydrocarbons

“Some of these toxic chemicals have been shown to cause cancer,” she said.

According to her, exposure to fine particles and harmful chemicals during open burning of waste have been linked to heart diseases, skin diseases and aggravation of pre-existing respiratory illnesses like asthma.

“People exposed to air pollutants caused by open burning of wastes can experience eye and nose irritation, difficulty in breathing, coughing and headaches.

“Other health problems aggravated by burning include asthma, lung infections, pneumonia and bronchiolitis,” she said.

The environmentalist said that people often engage in waste burning due to lack of sustainable waste management in many parts of the country.

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She called for public sensitisation on proper waste management including waste collection, separation and recycling.

“Governments at all levels must be committed to sustainable waste management and promote technologies that convert plastics to energy.

“There is a need for organised refuse collection in every state,” she said.

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