Dioxins & Open Composting
by Debashree Sen
According to the EPA, open burning of household waste is a major uncontrolled source of dioxin, a known carcinogen. Open composting is an alternative measure of treating household waste which is beneficial in reducing unnecessary release of dioxin in the atmosphere.
Dioxins are highly toxic, long-lasting organic compounds. These toxic chemicals are formed when products containing carbon and chlorine are burned. People can inhale it directly and it can also enter the food chain when it gets deposited in soil, water and crops.
Household waste contains a medley of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other types of plastics, treated wood, colored paper and hazardous materials such as batteries. Open burning of such residential trash in a burn barrel or backyard incinerator releases dioxins along with a wide variety of other toxic chemicals.
Effect of Dioxins
Dioxins are carcinogenic and pose other health hazards. According to Environmental Justice Activists, dioxins can cause developmental and reproductive disorders. They can also damage the immune system and interfere with hormonal systems.
Open composting is the controlled biological decomposition and pasteurization of organic materials under aerobic (occurring in the presence of oxygen) conditions. It is accomplished in open windrows or open static piles. As a result, microorganisms break down complex organic molecules. This process releases nutrients and energy contained in the waste.
Advantages of Open Composting
It is easy to add new materials and turn the waste pile in open composting. Moreover, the water needed for decomposition is supplied by the rain.