COVID-19 & children: unmasking the reality


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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Often, what we humans propose, nature disposes of. I would like to draw your attention to a crisis in the making and relaying of the importance of a safer and healthier planet for our future generations.

Masks have become an essential part of our lives during the COVID-19 epidemic. But we often find the potentially virus-laden tissue littering corners of roads and beaches, ending up in landfills. This adds to the contamination of water resources and ultimately leads to serious health and environmental risks, putting children’s lives at risk.

The Jawaharnagar district in Hyderabad, which adjoins the city’s largest landfill, is a glaring example. This represents a global problem, adding another chapter of woe to the lives of underserved children.

These masks remain until the polypropylenes of the single-use variants break down into nano-plastics and unmask an eco-tragedy.

Jawaharnagar is the site of the city’s largest landfill, spread over hundreds of acres of land. The locality is home to around 95 slums, while around 25 of them are directly affected by its presence.

The marginalized must endure suffering as they inhale and ingest the pollution they did not create. The air and groundwater are poisoned in the region. Children are born with deformities, and there is recorded evidence of older people developing serious health risks.

Thus, a certain part of the population is always the target of “institutionalized” neglect.

It is a short rope for children, who suffer badly from an unhealthy life. There are many stories of distress that call on us to act immediately on this burning issue.

Aishwarya (name changed), a 17-year-old girl living in Giriprasad Nagar, has suffered from chronic liver disease for five years. Running from hospital to hospital, his health did not improve. Rather, she developed life-threatening complications that clouded her future.

There are many heartbreaking stories, as the first observations showed that more than 50 children have developed chronic illnesses in the past 6 years due to the contamination of the landfill.

However, these are the same people who collect the waste (medical included), produced by city dwellers, and constantly put themselves in danger. Careful examination of the social fabric suggests that remediation work is inherently work for socio-economically marginalized sections.

When all waste is not sorted, it is a particular section of society that is responsible for collecting it with their bare hands and separating the waste without adequate protection.

They are therefore sensitive to much higher risks of contamination. If only those who are major contributors to the eco-massacre replaced their existing masks with biodegradable variants (as they have the privilege of doing so), there would be a possibility of preventing more landfills from reaching landfills or poisoning the marine world.

No one ever imagined that the surge in face mask production would become so high that it would worsen the climate crisis. Single-use plastics and straws were the center of attention until this pandemic introduced masks.

The scale of the non-biodegradable medical waste created is alarming and its plastic footprints are here to stay. Therefore, it is important that we know how to dispose of this waste responsibly. Now, with the threats of COVID looming, children have become even more vulnerable.

According to a recent study, India generates a maximum of 4.64 billion mask waste per week, based on which we rank first for the amount of polypropylene generated by these masks – a whopping 12,258 tonnes per week. week.

The N-95 respirators feature twice the polypropylene composition of the surgical variety, and both options take 450 years to decompose.

Perhaps this quickly focused on the waste management system which needs to be automated and mechanized. In situations where the direct involvement of humans is there, we must provide them with protective equipment against the hazardous waste that they handle.

We need to be a little more human and appreciate the role of the people who take care of our environment.

As we hold our children a little closer, we must not forget that our responsibilities are not only restricted and limited to ourselves for our footprint is far-reaching. Being a little more introspective about our actions should open a realization that those who protect us are also the parents of the next generation.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Down to earth.


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