Chelem dump (Photo: yucatan.com.mx)

There are more than 6 thousand cubic meters of subsoil contaminated by toxic gases

Mérida, Yucvatán, (October 07, 2021).- The methane released by waste from open dumps produces ozone, which endangers people’s lives when breathing it and can cause type 2 diabetes, warned Carlos Álvarez Flores, president of the civil association Mexico, Communication and Environment.

According to the specialist in environmental toxicology, methane, a highly toxic gas, turns into ozone and “that can kill us.” Ozone, he explained, is a very strong oxidant that attacks the eyes, mucosa, nose, throat, however, the most serious thing is that when we breathe it, it enters the lungs, then the cells called pneumocytes, which are found in the lung walls, become inflamed as a defense mechanism and create a hormone; This goes to the blood and inhibits, destroys or neutralizes the insulin that we generate naturally inside our body.

“As this hormone removes insulin from the blood, the sugar content rises, which causes type 2 diabetes to occur,” he stressed. 

In Mexico, he indicated, deaths from ozone are not counted, however in Europe around 17 thousand people have died from this substance, according to data from the report of the European Environmental Agency.

Yucatán generates around 739 thousand tons of solid waste per year, distributed in more than 90 open-air dumps, including the Mérida landfill, as documented by the group.

Photo: (La Jornada Maya)

This represents an area of ​​1,200 hectares, he added, which causes severe contamination to the subsoil, especially by leachates, liquids resulting from the decomposition of organic waste. 

Also, he warned that there are more than 6 thousand cubic meters of subsoil contaminated by these toxic juices generated by the mixture of the organic with the inorganic fraction; Likewise, there are about 50 contaminated bodies of water, from surface aquifers to cenotes. 

In Mérida only 6 percent of the waste that is collected is recycled, he stressed. “It is not recycled because we do not separate the waste from home,” he said.

The waste management expert indicated that, for 40 years, the country and Yucatan have adapted a wrong model for the management of solid human waste through sanitary landfills, and do not comply with environmental regulations.

In addition, he commented that there are fragmented municipalities of the state, far from the capital, which makes it difficult to carry out a project for the integral management of solid waste.

For example, the entity has documented that Standard 083 Semarnat 2003 is not fully complied with, which regulates the design, construction, operation, monitoring, enclosure, and complementary works of a final disposal site for urban solid waste and special management.

Garbage is generated by human beings, however, he stressed, there are natural resources, together with containers, packaging, and organic waste that have a value; however, we are not environmentally educated to separate them.

Neither, he added, the state or municipal government has implemented comprehensive waste prevention and management programs, an obligation that has been embodied since 2009 in the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection.

This law, explained by the chemical engineer, indicates that each state must have its state program for the prevention and comprehensive management of waste and each municipality must also have a municipal program focused on this issue, but it does not happen; it is not fulfilled.

What they do is have a sanitary landfill, however, it is only a place where garbage is “thrown”. The state government, through the Secretariat for Sustainable Development (SDS), has not carried out awareness campaigns on environmental education. 

Source: La Jornada Maya

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