Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 46, Tuesday April 20, 2004






Garbage gagging the city

Couldn't Garbage Galore just be the other name for Dhaka? This is a capital where rubbish piles up in every nook of major streets, lanes, front-yard of houses, schools, universities, parks, commercial buildings, industrial constructions, shopping malls, vegetable bazaars…where not? Today, we happily walk over the shell of an egg, or slip on a banana peel and we couldn't care less, so used are we to this lifestyle. This is not how modern hygiene-conscious people should live, though, and a little effort on our part can surely change this scenario.

Many of us dump the whole burden of waste management to the Head of the State. However, the garbage problem is our problem, more than theirs. We ought to keep in mind that our country's leaders have too many times in the past failed to realise their citizens' dreams, so it all comes down to the fact that it's eventually you and your family who remain victims of this poor trash handling.

Take a look at your litter-can. Is it a very grimy litter-can with the handgrip almost broken, or maybe even a hollow on the body, and a putrid liquid oozing from the bottom of the container? Many of us don't even know that we must wash our garbage-can everyday. The pungent smell that rises from the litter-can mixes with the air inside your house, converting the entire abode into a scene from toxic hell. Your child is most likely to become a victim of this germ-infested environment. Our garbage can is often kept in our kitchen, and when you cook in this filthy air, your food is adulterated. So try and keep your garbage covered.

There are trash containers found in different shapes and sizes, they look nice and they are a quite affordable. With about Tk. 150 or even less, you can purchase a quality trash bucket or container for your home; they come in different colours and some even have a lid for convenience. Check out New Market or the supermarkets to choose a style meeting your needs.

In fact there are various kinds of garbage cans available in the market, some are good for domestic purpose, while others are suitable for shop and office settings. With a new litter-can, start your mission of domestic waste management.

Most areas have large litter holders provided by the City Corporation to off-load the daily dump. Teach your housemaid to make proper use of these holders. These containers might be a few yards away from your house, but so what? Teach her to walk that extra distance; everyone around you will be benefited. It just takes one person to start a norm.

City Corporation vans collect garbage dump from different houses in many localities. If you have this facility existing in your area, then dispose your daily litter through these people. You can also form a club in your area that would work towards keeping your neighbourhood clean. The sensible senior citizens of every vicinity can form an association and start campaigns that would work towards increasing and creating a sense of cleanliness among people, making them aware of the evil effects of poor trash management.

Today, the malls are equipped with trashcans with Use Me imprinted on them. Use them. If facilities exist then dump the wrappers inside the store. Shopkeepers especially those who are in charge of food stores should keep a garbage can at their store to contribute to waste management. They can further request the shoppers to utilise these containers.

Young people can do magic if they are guided properly. Schools and universities can do a lot to help in proper trash treatment. The volunteers can post banners and festoons in and outside their institution that would encourage people not to litter. Environment clubs can be built at high school and university level to ensure cleanliness of the educational establishments. Every school should place trashcans in each classroom, hall, cafeteria and even at one corner of the playground.

One can even put a garbage can at one's own garage. This would mean that the guests, drivers and gatekeepers could make use of it. Many apartment buildings now provide a garbage can in their ground floor. This is indeed praiseworthy.

Line your litter-can with newspapers or a plastic bag. There are City Clean Garbage Bags marketed by Windy House, 3 DN Sen Road, Dhaka; these are available at Agora. You can place one inside the container and then throw out the junk. This would mean that when you empty the container you just tie a knot at the mouth of the bag and throw it in an appropriate place. There is no risk of litter.

Before you purchase an item, think about how many hours you had to work at your job to earn the money to buy the item. Sometimes, when you think about it that way, you're more likely to only purchase it if it's a necessity, or at least try harder to find a bargain. The less you buy unnecessary goods the less you create waste and save money as well.

How many more days would you want to cover your nose with a hankie? Free your hands and nose! Breathe in some fresh air. It's time we did something really worthwhile.

By Wara Karim

Reader's Chit

The toxin within

Everyone dreams of a home which regardless of the style, ushers harmony and purity that nourish both body and soul. A house that lets one breathe more easily, feel more content, and serves its occupants with heightened energy and enthusiasm. One of the great ironies is that the very technologies intended to enhance our comfort have often undermine our health and the true sense of well being. Modern homes and infrastructures do meet our living requirements, but they are also the breeding ground of some of the most detrimental chemical pollutants that fill the indoor air with toxic fumes.

Some of the most harmful outdoor gases that pollute and degrade the natural environment can also be generated from the household appliances and combustion products that can put the health of the occupants of the house in great peril. It is generally thought that pollutants like Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, small particles and Lead originate form outdoor sources and remain in the outdoor.

This notion is wrong, as these injurious pollutants can also originate from the very household products and deteriorate the indoor environment of the homes. Household appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, gas stoves, space heaters and fireplaces can release carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and small particles as well as other harmful gases.

Carbon monoxide, a colourless and odourless gas, combines with haemoglobin of the blood and interferes with its ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, fatigue and chest pain are experienced when the concentration is lower while high concentrations can result in much fatal impacts on health.

Exposure to nitrogen dioxide can cause irritation of the mucous membranes in the eye, nose and throat. High concentration can cause shortness of breath and increases the risk of respiratory infection and emphysema.

On the other hand lead, one of the most talked about harmful pollutants in the context of Bangladesh, comes from leaded paint that is most likely to be found on siding, porches, windows, kitchen and bath walls. Other sources of lead includes household dust and soil from where leaded paint have been improperly removed, lead painted toys, hobby and craft materials, lead dust brought home on work clothes, lead-contaminated soil, lead dust generated during home repair, renovation and remodelling, gasoline, plumbing components and food cans.

Children are the most vulnerable one to this indoor lead pollution as they have high degree of hand to mouth activity through which they tend to absolve lead manually. Once lead is accumulated it remains stored in the bone for many years and adult neuro-toxic effects may occur when lead is released from the bone as part of the ageing process. Generally the effects of lead poisoning are weakness, acute anaemia, mental retardation, serious nerve disorders, brain damage convulsions and disability. The children are at more risk since they are eight times more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults. Lead slows down their physical and mental growth. It also reduces the working capacity of the children's Red Blood Corpuscles (RBC) which eventually decreases their IQ.

To control the hazard of indoor lead pollution it is suggested to cover and block children's access to damaged leaded paint, not to scrap or heat leaded paint and paint chips and remove leaded paint without experts help since improper removal can spread dangerous lead dust. It is advised to wash children's hands, toys and pacifiers frequently, and provide meals and snacks high in iron and calcium and low in fat.

Some other suggestion includes washing floors, windows and walls with high phosphate or lead specific detergents to clean lead dust, cover bare soil by planting grass or other plants. As precaution it is suggested that appliances and the exhaust systems should be adjusted, maintained and inspected regularly and properly.

Keeping plants inside the home also significantly reduces the concentration of various toxins such as these and makes a healthy contribution to the home environment.

By Obaidur Rahman



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