Piles of trash burning is a common sight in Dehradun as well as in most other major cities including Delhi, Bombay, Banglaore, Pune etc. these days. In the evenings, shopkeepers burn their trash on the streets while after festivals and weddings, waste Thermocol and disposable plastics are burnt. Fallen leaves are also regularly burnt. Dehradun is amongst the top most polluted cities in India, and trash burning is one of the major causes of this.
The smoke released from burning trash, especially plastic waste contains some of the most toxic chemicals known to science:
Dioxins and Furans: Can trigger severe birth defects in children and is highly carcinogenic (cancer-causing). The World Health Organisation has classifed dioxins as a 'Known human carcinogen'. Dioxins were a part of the chemical defoliant 'Agent Orange' used in the Vietnam War to destroy thousands of acres of forest land. This is the same chemicals we are freely releasing into the air when we burn plastics.
Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide is released when material does not burn properly. It is a colourless, odourless gas that takes the place of oxygen in your blood cells, quickly resulting in unconsciousness and in extreme cases death as the body is deprived of oxygen.
What can you do?
Actively stop trash fires, speak to those who you see burning trash regularly to let them know that it is a banned practice and that it is extremely dangerous for theirs, their family's and the whole neighbourhood's health.
Instead of burning your waste, you can give it to Waste Warriors, an NGO in Dehradun that collects and safely diposes of plastic waste. More information on how to do this can be found on our FAQ page here.
[Details on what do in other regions where DNT is active TBA]