The Daily Star – 77pc vulnerable to toxic chemicals, waste

25 October 2011 – Almost 77 percent people of Bangladesh are exposed to different toxic chemicals and waste that pose health threat, experts said at a workshop yesterday.

They said every year huge amount of hazardous and electronic wastes is generated with the use of technologies increasing, but the government is yet to formulate any policy and guidelines regarding those.

Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO), a non-government research and advocacy organisation, arranged the workshop titled “Toxic Chemicals Pollution in Bangladesh: Use and Management” at its office in the city. ESDO chairperson Sayed Marghub Murshed chaired the programme.

According to a recent study of ESDO presented at the workshop, more than 2.8 million tonnes of electronic and hazardous waste, including toxic stuff produced at shipbreaking yards, is generated in Bangladesh.

The IT sector has generated approximately 35,000 tonnes of e-waste in Bangladesh in the last 10 years, the study report says, while around 5,985,000 sets of televisions become scraps generating approximately 88,357 tonnes of e-waste annually. Shipbreaking yards waste amounts to approximately 2.5 million tonnes per year, it adds.

The speakers said lead and mercury and some variety of pesticides have hazardous impacts on physical and mental functions of human being, including organ damages. Especially the children and elderly people are more vulnerable to those, they added.

Indiscriminate use of toxic chemicals has already affected the ecosystem and biodiversity of Bangladesh adversely, they said, urging the government to take necessary measures for the sake of a healthy environment.

ESDO executive director Siddika Sultana; director Golam Qadir; Dr Shakil Akter, teacher, Bangladesh Medical Collage; Akter Mahal Gulfam; Anamul Haque of North South University; and Harun-ur-Rashid,teacher, Jahangirnagar University; also spoke at the workshop.