What Are Some of the Effects of Improper Waste Disposal?

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Improper waste disposal may lead to water pollution, land pollution, loss of biodiversity and exposes residents to health risks. Moreover, improper waste disposal contributes to climate change through release of greenhouse gases to the environment.

Land Pollution
The disposal of man-made chemicals such as petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents, lead and pesticides on land surfaces results in soil pollution. These non-biodegradable compounds affect the soil's structure and composition. Moreover, improper disposal of sharp objects such as broken glass and metal parts exposes people to the risk of accidental injuries. In this regard, polluted lands are unsuitable for agriculture, settlement and other economic activities.

Air Pollution
Disposal of industrial wastes through burning results in air pollution. Compounds such as plastics, rubber and used oil, when disposed through combustion, releases carbon dioxide and other toxic gases. Such toxic gases expose people to risks of respiratory and heart diseases.

Moreover, compounds dumped into landfills eventually decompose to release gases such as methane. These gases are a health hazard to both human beings and wildlife.

Climate Change
The decomposition of chemical compounds in landfills and the burning of synthetic materials may release greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, warming it and thus promoting climate change.

Contamination of Surface Water
When improperly disposed, chemical wastes find their way into bodies of water through surface runoff and seepage. Such polluted water is unsuitable for consumption, agriculture or any other economic activity due to its adverse health effects.

Moreover, the contamination of surface water has resulted in the uncontrolled growth of water hyacinth in some lakes and rivers. Water hyacinth hinders economic activities such as fishing and water transport.

Health Risks
Improper disposal of wastes releases harmful chemicals into the soil and water. Such chemicals find their way up the food chain and, when consumed by human beings, may lead to health complications such as cancer, liver diseases and kidney diseases.

When improperly disposed, radioactive industrial wastes may lead to formation of cancerous cells and other deformities in both adults and unborn babies. These wastes are highly toxic and may render a given area uninhabitable.

Improperly disposed wastes such as plastic containers act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are responsible for the spread of malaria and dengue fever. In addition, houseflies breed on poorly disposed household wastes. These flies spread germs, which are responsible for stomach upsets and other illnesses.

Loss of Biodiversity
The disposal of chemical elements on land results in change of soil structure and chemical composition. The high levels of soil acidity or alkalinity affect plant growth and the survival of micro-organisms in the soil. Moreover, consumption of such toxic wastes by land animals may eventually kill them or negatively affect their reproductive ability.

When such chemicals make their way into bodies of water, they change the pH levels. Change in pH affects the health of marine wildlife such as fish, coral reefs and plankton. In addition, consumption of non-biodegradable wastes such as plastics by marine wildlife negatively affect their health. Thus the introduction of harmful wastes into water bodies may lead to loss of biodiversity.