Scientist warns of health risks

Vunato Dump from the Veidogo Settlement end. Thick smoke continues to be emitted from the landfill. Picture: FELIX CHAUDHARY

ALL steps must be taken to bring the Vunato Dump fire in Lautoka under control as soon as possible.

This was the word from Dr Francis Mani, an atmospheric scientist at the University of the South Pacific’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

He said long-term exposure to dump fire smoke could result in serious breathing and heart-related issues, and even cancer.

“The burning produces carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter,” he said.

“These are classified as major air pollutants and long-term exposure could cause serious respiratory and cardiovascular problems in humans.

“What is of major concern is that the landfill burning could be a significant source of dioxins and furans to the environment.

“These are known carcinogens meaning they can cause cancer.

“Although it is known source, but we are not sure how much of dioxins and furans are emitted from the Lautoka dump burning and whether it does pose any direct threat to people living around the area.

“Nonetheless, to safeguard our environment, the fire at Lautoka dump must be controlled immediately.”

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