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Mercury pollution


release of mercury into the air, soil and water poses a significant health risk
·         Annually, a large amount of this toxic, complex metal is simply dumped into municipal landfills or released into the air from a “green” source
·         India's domestic production of fluorescent tube lights (FTL) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) involves the use of about eight tonnes of mercury
·         both industry and government must take responsibility for the toxic waste element in end-of-life lamps
·         when mercury turns into methyl mercury, it accumulates in fish
·         Human health, particularly that of foetuses, is greatly harmed when such fish is consumed
·         a part of the mercury from discarded units is released into the air, and the rest goes into the soil, contaminating surface and sub-soil water
·         problem is acute in large cities, which absorb a large portion of about 400 million CFLs and 250 million FTLs that come to market.
·         the lamps made in India have a higher mercury content than those in the developed world
·         India does not specifically identify fluorescent lamps either as municipal waste, or hazardous waste
·         Unlike the more diffused problem of mercury released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, especially coal, fluorescent lamps represent a secondary source of man-made contamination
·         Central Pollution Control Board had written to State Governments asking them to encourage establishment of recycling units so that fused CFLs and FTLs are properly collected, the mercury recovered and recycled scientifically
·         not much progress has been made
·          this exposes governmental indifference to a significant public health issue
·         States and their Pollution Control Boards have not acted to stop the release of this neurotoxic pollutant into the atmosphere

Way ahead

·         adopt the Municipal Solid Waste rules in their entirety
·         segregate waste at the level of the consumer and remove recyclable materials
·         This will reduce pressure on the environment from various waste sources such as batteries, plastic, glass and metal

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