Poor solid waste management can pose a serious risk to human health. The improper management of solid wastes represents a source of environmental pollution, and poses risks to human health. Below are some effects of solid waste on human health.
Spread of vector borne-diseases-Poor disposal of solid waste is associated with spread of vector borne-diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Malaria accounts for an estimated 300-500 million cases globally; which is an endemic disease in sub-Saharan Africa. It accounts for about 1.5-2.5 million deaths yearly, most of them among children under five years.
Respiratory diseases-Inhalation of poisonous chemicals can cause serious danger to human health. Chemicals inhaled may cause catarrh, cough, and bronchitis and may aggravate some health conditions such as asthma. Incineration of solid waste contributes to air pollution by the release of gases into the air, which may cause ill-health. Malfunctioning incinerator can also cause fire outbreak.
Breeding ground for pest of public health importance- decomposing organic materials can become breeding sites for pests, rats, flies and vermin that enhance the likelihood of disease transmission like diarrhea and Lassa fever.
Lassa fever for example is a hemorrhagic fever common in four African countries: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It is transmitted to humans from contacts with food or household items contaminated with rodent excreta.
Flooding to health risks-indiscriminate dumping of wastes in the streets can block water drains and channels which can cause flooding, posing significant environmental and public health risks.
Water pollution can occur when rain water combines with decomposing waste and seep through permeable soil, finally contaminating surface and ground water with both lethal materials and pathogenic organisms; this is extremely dangerous as ground water is the main source of drinking water for most people across the globe.
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Low birth weight- children of women exposed to hazardous solid waste materials may have low weight at birth.
Cancer- solid waste containing carcinogenic materials can pose danger to human health. Solid waste materials such as polyethylene may emit carcinogens during combustion and anybody expose to it will be at risk.
Congenital malformations-congenital malformations may occur as a result of exposure by pregnant women to some toxic constituents known as teratogens in solid wastes.
Increase in neurological disease-solid waste may also impart negatively on human health by increase in neurological diseases due to handling of bulky materials
Nausea and vomiting-obnoxious odours emanating from indiscriminate waste disposal sites may cause nausea and vomiting to humans.
Increase in hospitalisation- solid waste containing hazardous materials if not properly managed may results toxicity to people that may be exposed to it leading to increased hospitalization especially of vulnerable people e.g. of diabetic residents living near hazard waste sites.
Mercury toxicity-toxicity may occur as a result of consumption of fish containing high level of heavy metals such as mercury leading to mercury poisoning.
Accidents- improper disposal solid wastes may lead to accidents on road causing loss of human lives and economic properties.