Preventable Health Risks in Major Cities

An open garbage dump in Ashok Nagar

India has the highest number of child mortalities caused by diarrhoea and pneumonia. These diseases are caused by bacteria and parasites and are commonly spread due to open garbage dumps.

Bengaluru is becoming famous nowadays for its unending garbage problems, is trying to clean up and dispose of waste responsibly. Several informal dumps can be seen across the city. Many of these garbage dumps often run into sewers and drains that cause an even bigger health risk. Waste is also, often, dumped into lakes, thus effectively ruining its beauty as well as ecosystem. Indiranagar is home to garbage dumps on almost every street corner. Open dumps make the roads difficult for pedestrians to us. In Horamavu and Gandhinagar, stormwater drainages have become new dumping grounds for citizens.

In such situations, especially during summer and monsoon seasons, it is easy to forget the dangers that these open dumps on the roads cause.

Dr. Divya Ninan in the General  Medicine Department of CSI Hospital said, “the improper dumping of garbage leads to the contamination of resources depending on the site of dumping. If the garbage is dumped near a water source, the water gets contaminated which in turn, leads to water-borne diseases. When a water source is contaminated, it changes the chemical composition of the water and destroys ecosystems.”

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water causing malaria, dengue etc. These diseases are especially popular around the time of monsoon, she adds.

Open garbage dumps tend to draw in flies, rodents and even animals. Flies are known to be the main carriers of pathogens such as bacterium, virus etc.

A study done by the Department of Entomology, Penn State, shows that the common housefly is suspected of transmitting at least 65 different diseases such as fever, cholera, dysentery, typhoid etc.

Studies in the past have related gastrointestinal diseases such as dysentery and diarrhoea are bacterial diseases to contaminated food. It also causes diseases like cholera and typhoid.

Airborne diseases occur with the burning of garbage, especially plastic waste. They contain highly toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans. Garbage dumps also cause soil contamination, which gives rise to problems of contamination of underground water.

The 1994 pneumonic plague that took place in Surat, India that caused 56 deaths is testament to the fact that proper garbage disposal methods should be employed to prevent the outbreak of an endemic or even cut down on the occurrence of certain diseases that can be easily prevented.

Joan Cherian