Toxic Legacy Pollution: Safeguarding Public Health and Environment from Industrial Wastes. (PB - 73)

Toxic Legacy Pollution: Safeguarding Public Health and Environment from Industrial Wastes. (PB - 73)

Publication details

  • Thursday | 12 Nov, 2020
  • Mahmood A. Khwaja
  • Policy Briefs/Papers
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INTRODUCTION Legacy pollutants are chemicals, often used or produced by industry, which remain in the environment long after they were first introduced. The continuous or intermittent discharge (releases & emissions) of unintended/undesired products/wastes from industries, containing such toxic chemicals into the environment results in legacy pollution. Without environmentally sound waste management and remediation, such sites, because of the hazardous exposure, remain a threat to public health for indefinite period, especially to the vulnerable population including children. In Pakistan, wastes management has long been an issue of critical concern, for the health sector, environmental protection agencies and civic authorities in the country. None of these bodies has the resources, the facilities or expertise to ensure the environmentally sound waste management. Legacy toxic pollution from hazardous waste sites, is rapidly on the increase globally (including Pakistan), damaging the environment as well as affecting the public health. Identification and characterization of polluted sites is the first step toward protecting environment and safeguarding communities from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals & metals. In a recent study report by sustainable development policy institute (SDPI), about the initial assessment of 38 sites in three provinces of the country, has indicated growing significant risk, both to the environment & health of the people, especially those living in the near vicinity and around the investigated sites (Khwaja, 2020). Due to poor environmental legislative control and environmentally unsound & unfriendly manufacturing processes adopted by many industries in the country would, most likely, further enhance environmental degradation & compound the environmental issues as well as an increase in the number of hazardous sites in the country. Toxic pollution is considered the largest cause of death in low- and middle- income countries. According to Pure Earth, over 100 million people are estimated to be at risk from toxic pollution, observed at levels above the international health standards (Pure Earth 2016). It’s well established that public health in more than one way ultimately also impacts the national economy.