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Every breath you take near Kodungaiyur

April 17, 2012

Sanjay Pinto
NDTV.com

Chennai: If you live in the vicinity of Chennai's largest garbage dump at Kodungaiyur, every breath you take, may have 19 toxic chemicals! Environmentalists say the polluted air could target the respiratory and central nervous system. What's worse, the noxious fumes contain Butadiene, Chloromethane and Benzene, known to be carcinogenic and between 8.5 to 50 times above levels considered safe by the US Environment Protection Agency. These findings, recorded by Community Environmental Management and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives during a fire in the dump yard last month, were released in Chennai today.

The agencies claim that even short term exposure to chemicals like Acrolein, part of the deadly cocktail, can cause fluid accumulation and bleeding in the lungs, which could turn fatal.

The survey points out that the burning of garbage has been a chronic occurrence. As many as 36 complaints by local residents to the Chennai Corporation, The Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board and the Union Environment Ministry have not helped. As the Madras High Court had reportedly directed the authorities to prevent the burning of garbage at this site, the air sample data is likely to be used by residents to file a contempt case.

The Kodungaiyur dump yard caters to about 15 zones of the Chennai Corporation. Dumping garbage here has been a practice for the past 23 years. The site is part of a 400 acre marshland, abutting a sewage treatment plant. Dharmesh Shah, the coordinator from India for the Global Alliance For Incinerator Alternatives, adds that "the Chennai Corporation is officially allotted 65 acres to dump garbage but residents tell us that 350 acres are used for the purpose illegally."

The Chennai Corporation has promised to look into the findings.

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