Imagine what will happen if we all throw garbage, junk and rubbish away anyhow. Imagine there was no authority to supervise waste management activities from all the sources mentioned earlier.
Imagine we all just sent our rubbish to the landfill, or just dumped them in a nearby river. What do you think will happen? A disaster!
Effects of Solid Waste on the Environment
Solid waste can pose serious effect on the environment if not properly managed. The proper management of solid waste from the point of generation to the point where it is finally disposed is very important to prevent environmental degradation. Below are some effects of solid waste on the environment:
Global warming-change in climate and destruction of ozone layer due to waste biodegradable
Pollution of soil by leaching i.e. a process by which solid waste enter soil and contaminating them
Blockage of drainage leading to flood.
1) Air Pollution
Gases are generated through anaerobic decomposition of organic solid waste. If a significant amount of methane is present, it may be explosive and greatly lead to greenhouse effect.
People who live near those sites may suffer from respiratory disorders occurring with toxic gases, dust, and fumes. When pollutants get mixed with air, this causes acid rain. Acid rain degrades the top soil.
2) Water Pollution
Rain can penetrate and pass through solid waste and can reach out and carry hazardous organic chemicals & inorganic chemicals such as heavy metals into the groundwater as well as nearby surface water sources.
People who utilize the ground water or the surface water will absolutely expose to those pollutants and severe health problems may occur. Also elements such as N, P, leaching to surface water sources will be create eutrophication conditions.
This will increase the biological oxygen demand of water sources and reduce the bio-diversity of water source.
3) Soil Pollution
Open dumps of solid waste or landfill pose serious threats to environment. One of the greatest environmental concerns associated with land filling is the generation of leachate. During degradation process, one ton of land filled solid waste generates about 0.2 m3 of leachate, depending on the type of waste and seasonal climate.
This wastewater primarily results from the degradation of the organic portion of the waste in combination with percolating rainwater and moisture that leaches out organic and inorganic constituents through the waste layer in the soil.
A landfill site may still produce leachate with a high concentration of ammonia for over 50 years after filling operations have ceased. If not properly treated, leachate seeping from a landfill can enter the underlying groundwater, posing potentially serious hazards to the environment and to public health.
For this reason, the generation of leachate has become a worldwide environmental concern in recent years.
4) Land Pollution
Land wasting damages microbial population and other soil fauna by releasing various toxic substances & disturbing their normal habitats. Garbage dumping, especially plastics, reduce the soil fertility as they are non-biodegradable.
These waste change the soil texture and prepare artificial environment inside the soil. This will disturbs root movement of trees and habitats of the soil fauna.
5) Global Warming
Methane and carbon dioxide are two major gases produced from the decomposition of the organic fraction of solid waste in the landfill. Methane gas has a 21-fold global warming potential as compared to carbon dioxide.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, such emissions contribute to 18% of the total methane emissions to the atmosphere, ranging from 9 to 70 Tg (Mega Tonnes) annually.
Read Also : Benefits of Integrated Waste Management
Therefore, landfills have been implicated as the largest source of atmospheric methane in the world, leading to a natural phenomenon called “global warming” (Hansen, 2005a).
Due to global warming, changing temperature and rainfall patterns will bring a variety of pressure upon plant and animal life. If temperature rises as projected, one-third of species will be lost from their habitat, either by moving elsewhere or by becoming extinct (Hansen, 2005b).
Indiscriminate dumping of solid waste can lead to blockage of drainage thereby causing floods posing serious public health and environmental problems.
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