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Environmental and Health Concerns Associated with the Open Dumping of Municipal Solid Waste: A Lagos, Nigeria Experience

DOI: 10.5923/j.ajee.20120206.03

Keywords: Municipal Solid Waste, Landfill, Vermin, Odour, Landfill Fire, Leachate

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Landfill is the simplest and most commonly used method of disposing municipal solid waste (MSW). In Nigeria, they are better categorized as open dumps, sited for convenience and usually involve the pitching of waste in pre-existing pits. In Lagos, the most populated city in Nigeria, most of these open pits are located near residential quarters and therefore pose a threat to public health and the environment. The absence of containment systems at the sites allows the possible percolation of leachate into groundwater. In addition, the methane gas generated as a result of bacterial degradation of waste is not collected and poses a potential fire hazard. The sites harbour numerous scrap tyres which not only fuel the fires but are also breeding grounds for disease transmitting vermin. Landfill fires especially those involving tyres emit dioxin which can cause reproductive impairment and cancer in humans at extremely low concentrations. Scavenging birds at these sites are potential carriers of diseases. This paper examines the potential environmental and health risks posed by some unsanitary MSW landfills in Lagos, Nigeria and calls for the need to start adopting modern waste management practices to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.


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