BEIRUT – The absence of decisive measures by the Lebanese authorities to end burning of garbage in the open air will lead to serious health issues especially for children and the elderly, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Friday.
The HRW report titled “‘As If You’re Inhaling Your Death’: The Health Risks of Burning Waste in Lebanon” showcased scientific studies which proved the fatal consequences of open waste burning on humans.
“People may think the garbage crisis started in 2015, but this has been going on for decades as the government jumps from one emergency plan to the next while largely ignoring the situation outside Beirut and surrounding areas,” Interim Beirut Director at HRW Nadim Houry said.
“People have a right to know about any potential dangers in their environment, and Lebanon should be testing the impact of the waste management crisis on the safety of the air, soil, and water and make those results public,” he added.
The NGO had interviewed more than 100 citizens living near the dumps, in which burning took place, and most of them described health problems including coughing, throat irritation, and asthma.
Lebanon’s Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Program gave HRW a map of 617 uncontrolled solid waste dumps all over Lebanon, 150 of which burning trash every week.
Although only 10 to 12 percent of Lebanon’s waste cannot undergo recycling and composting processes, 77 percent of the waste is either thrown in the open dumps or landfills, according to researchers at the American University of Beirut.