Open burning activities of waste, straw and agricultural residues generate a lot of toxic substances which cause many dangerous diseases, including cancer – the information has been passed on at the Workshop “Solutions for biomass utilization to reduce open burning activities” organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on 23 November 2017.

The burning of waste, straw and agricultural residues is now one of the major problems that Hanoi and the Red River Delta provinces face. These open burning actions not only have immediate consequences, such as air pollution, smoke, or the increase of local temperature but can also affect public health in the long term due to the risk of exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that persist in the environment. This is the information given at the Workshop “Solutions for biomass utilization to reduce open burning activities” organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on 23 November 2017.

Đốt rác ngoài trời gây ô nhiễm không khí, gây ra nhiều loại bệnh nguy hiểm

Waste open burning pollutes the air, causing many dangerous diseases

According to Assoc. Prof. Ph.D. Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet (INEST-Institute of Science, Technology and Environment – Hanoi University of Science and Technology), the burning actions of materials in the air (open burning) that have uncontrolled process and operational parameters such as: cooking (e.g. beehive coal) or biomass burning (e.g. agricultural byproducts, paper, wood); waste combustion, fire incidents and forest fires etc. will cause the emission of many toxic pollutants due to low temperature burning (200-700 0C) and insufficient time to burn completely.

Such burning processes produce numerous pollutants, including dust, CO2, metals (lead, mercury, zinc, arsenic), Dioxins, Furans etc.

“Smoke from open burning also causes odors and affects visibility, particularly on roads. CO2 arisen from combustion contributes to climate change; toxic substances generated from burning can have a severe effect on public health”, warned Ms. Anh Tuyet.

In further analysis, the expert from INEST said that dust and metals generated during open burning could cause a series of diseases dangerous to humans such as sneezing; irritation in eyes, throat; wheezing, difficult breathing in people with asthma and lung disease; causing chronic obstruction; cardiovascular problems (including heart attacks in people who have had previous heart disease); lung irritation; redness, blistering or peeling after skin contact.

Remarkably, according to Ms. Anh Tuyet, experiments showed that dust and metals arisen during the combustion process cause cancer in animals such as lung cancer, stomach cancer, skin cancer.

The study also found that children and women who live in areas occurring open burning activities have a higher risk of exposure due to exposure than others.

At the workshop, MSc. Nguyen Trung Thuan from Pollution Control Department of the VEA warned that open burning operations could be responsible for the Dioxins contaminated areas (areas that were long-term affected by emissions from metallurgy, incinerators, open-burning areas, large areas of fire). Health issues in these areas include cancer, reduced fertility, immune system damage, central nervous system damage, infant damage, gene damage etc.

On solutions, Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuyet said, “limiting open burning activities will play an important role in improving the state of the environment as well as community health, and indirectly improve the background national economy “.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dao Duc Liem, Center for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) proposed solutions using agricultural waste and by-products such as handicraft production from straw, coir, corn; construction materials / boards from sawdust, wood, straw; animal feed from straw, corn, green vegetables; biological padding in livestock; biogas tank.

Mr. Nguyen Viet Dung, Director of the Center for Environmental Training and Communication, informed that there are many models of community, e.g. to reduce the use of pesticides in agriculture, increase the decomposition of biomass in the field; using some bio-chemicals to increase the biodegradability of biomass; make use of rice hulls, straw as a fuel to replace charcoal; producing paper from sawdust.