Waste burning is an easy waste disposal mechanism that is often used across dumpsites either accidentally or intentionally.
Dumpsites/Landfills on the urbanised outskirts of Mumbai, which include Thane, Bhiwandi, Panvel, and further, have large swathes of waste that is burnt due to lack of an effective municipal garbage disposal system.
Awaaz Foundation observed that the amount of particulate matter (PM) emissions across these dumpsites are alarmingly high due to the burning of waste. With recorded PM2.5 (at 1-minute intervals) readings at Bhiwandi, Panvel Naka, and Dharamtar were at 612µ/mg3, 182µ/mg3, and 181µ/mg3, respectively.
Apart from organic waste, high amounts of plastic and e-waste is burned in these dumpsites, which when burnt release toxic and harmful chemicals. According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Boston), the harmful chemicals released cause respiratory diseases, cancer, and immunity-related disorders.
Air pollution from burning plastic waste along with other sources of air pollution significantly increases the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the locality, causing threatening diseases. In Maharashtra alone, 1.4 Lakh pollution-related deaths were reported by ICMR.
To address this issue, there is an urgent need to establish an efficient waste disposal mechanism and monitoring by the municipality and local authorities to limit the incoming waste to dumpsites. Additionally, incineration of plastic waste and other types of waste is illegal in many states.