Unit 4 IP- Environmental Hazards and Human Health







Unit 4 IP- Environmental Hazards and Human Health

An open dump can be described as an open area or facility where solid waste is disposed off and lacks proper sanitation (Camp, 2002). The world population has been increasing steadily, this has been a cause for alarm as the there are no adequate means of disposal of the ever increasing amounts of waste. Increase in the population size has meant that people are producing more waste and that the land available for waste management purposes such as the establishment of recycling facilities has diminished significantly. Open dumps pose quite significant safety, environmental and health risks to the population. Among such risks are the possibility of fire and explosions whereby disposal of flammable waste and waste that can easily explode when exposed to heat. The presence of chemical waste that produce harmful gases pose health problems to the population near the open dumps to people further away from the dumps. The presence of fire in open dumps decomposes the chemicals to form very harmful gases that are a health risk to the population. The gases are also a risk to the environment because they diffuse in the atmosphere to mix with the water vapor in the air, this result in acidic rainwater that destroys crops and erodes rooftops (Camp, 2002).

A landfill can be described as a site where the solid waste is disposed off by being buried in deep holes in the land that have been historically referred to as the most formal methods of waste disposal. Despite the landfills being considered the best alternative for waste disposal, they still pose several environmental, health and safety issues. During landfilling process, the heavy machinery has the possibility of damaging the groundwater and or aquifers by leaking the harmful waste. In addition, during landfilling process soil contamination may occur due to the presence of non-degradable chemicals such as pesticides in the waste. Leachates also contaminate the soil and the water sources. These chemicals have the potential to cause devastating health issues to the people who consume things dissolved with leachates. Leachates also damage the soil composition rendering it unfertile or when plants absorb nutrients that are later consumed by people or animals this results in health complications such as cancer or stomach complications (Camp, 2002).

Landfills also produce gases such as methane when generated by decaying matter. Methane is a gas that is considered harmful to the environment due to its greenhouse effect whereby it absorbs the heat from the sun and radiates part of the sun’s rays. Such an aspect contributes to the increase in the temperature of the environment. Without decomposition, the waste increases dramatically and eventually leads to reduced or more so lack of space to dispose the waste. The modern landfill is usually made up of heavy machinery that is responsible for the movement including delivery of the material. When waste arrives in trucks, it is weighed on a weighbridge and sorted. The bulldozers at the site spread the waste over the designated area for landfilling. The early landfills lacked the machinery to weigh the trucks and the loads for precise quantity recording of the waste delivered to monitor the changes and progress. The new forms of landfills also enable the weighing of the trucks without the waste present to get more precise weight calculations of the waste (Camp, 2002).

Marionhill landfill in South Africa is a different form of landfill because all the waste delivered is sorted to get waste that can be recycled and sent to recycling plants.. Leachate, which is common in landfills, is collected in a reservoir called a Sequence Batching Reactor. Here the leachate is made into a less harmful substance by aeration and settlement such that this results in a cleaner leachate, which is later used as a source of irrigation water. Methane gas produced in the decomposition process by the anaerobic decomposition process is channeled through pipes and later sold to gas vendors for industrial purposes (Taylor, 28).


Camp, W. G. (2002). Managing our natural resources. Albany: Delmar/Thomson Learning.

Taylor, Y. (2009). The earth organization. News and information: TOXIC LANDFILL SITES! Perhaps not, 11. Retrieved from http://www.earthorganization.org/articles/Library/Toxic_landfill_sites_perhaps_not/default.aspx

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