Effects of Garbage Burning
Garbage burning has been used many a time in trying to control mounds of garbage that accumulate over a period and where other forms of disposal seem not to be addressed. However, such burning has negative impacts to the environment and all living species, especially the human species. We know when fire burns a lot of smoke is emitted. We know this smoke becomes part of the air we breathe. The question is “Do we want to breathe smoke? What is the effect of that smoke to our health?” We might be able to endure smoke of burning wood, but what about burning plastic bags, an old cellphone or even an old tyre?
In October 2013, one of the largest dumpsite in Harare, the Pomona dump-site was burning for more than two weeks. This has become an annual phenomenon where such “accidents” do take place at that dumpsite. The satellite image of the 20th of October 2013, available to the Geo-Information and Remote Sensing Institute (GRSI) at the Zimbabwe Technology Center (SIRDC), shows the smoke plume caused by that fire (Figure 1).
While the Pomona dumpsite is one big annual burning event, the residents of Harare are in a habit of burning their household garbage—plastic bags, old cellphones, etc.--in their backyards or even on the roadside as garbage collection appear to be sporadic. Can this be healthy?