Firefighters dousing fire at Brahmapuram plant | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Kochi: A study report stating that the waste management plant in Brahmapuram is a ‘dioxin bomb’ has been lying dormant before the state government for nearly four years. The report had then revealed that the burning of waste in the plant leads to the release of dioxin and recommended to conduct a study on the presence of these toxic substances, even in breastmilk.
The study was conducted by the Thiruvananthapuram division of the central government’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) after the fire which broke out in Brahmapuram in 2019. It found the presence of an average of 10.3 picograms (one millionth of a gram) of TEQ (toxic equivalent) dioxin per cubic metre of atmospheric air.
The findings were around 10 to 50 per cent higher than previous study reports. A toxicity of 158.5 nanograms TEQ was detected per kilogram in ash. In addition, 6.8 nanograms of toxicity per kilogram was detected in the swamps of Brahmapuram.
According to data by World Health Organisation (WHO), a person with a body weight of 65 kg can only tolerate 1.66 micrograms of dioxin per year. If the quantity exceeds, then it could result in health issues. However, in 2019, around 72 milligram dioxin was released from Brahmapuram.
The 2019 report also recommended carrying out another study to detect the presence of dioxin in breast milk, cow-goat milk and meat. Other recommendations were to set up a modern disposal plant and remove the existing wastes using biomining and sanitary landfilling techniques.
Dioxin estimates this year?
According to a 2019 estimate by the state pollution control board, there had been a presence of 8 lakh tonne waste in Brahmapuram. However, data regarding the present amount of waste in the area has not been released yet. Further, no action has been taken to study the amount of dioxin released during the fire this year.
Dioxins are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that take a long time to break down once they are in the environment. These are highly toxic and can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones.