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November 19, 2018

Garbage collectors warned against exposure to toxins

A private garbage collection truck with garbage on March 1,2018./ EZEKIEL AMINGÁ
A private garbage collection truck with garbage on March 1,2018./ EZEKIEL AMINGÁ

Garbage collectors risk contracting respiratory disorders due to their exposure to airborne microbes, county head of Health Services Hitan Chagan has said.

He told the Star garbage collectors are inhaling toxic substances in air contaminated by waste, further exposing them to dangerous chemicals.

Chagan told garbage collectors to use protective gears for their safety.

“It is good to use gloves. As the county government, we provide them with other equipment. Unfortunately, once we provide them and they don’t use them, the it is like forcing food in their mouths,” he said.

Jacklyne Masinde, a doctor at Laindi District Hospital, said the most common disease among garbage collectors is asthma.

She appealed to the government to provide gumboots, gloves aprons and goggles, especially when handling hospital waste.

A spot check by the Star showed most garbage collectors from the county and some private contractors use street urchins, who lack protective gear. Mark Kiboi, a garbage collector, said they are paid Sh200 each and sometimes Sh150 and they don’t use gloves.

Moses Munoko, an environmental lawyer, said Kenya lacks proper guidelines on waste disposal.

“The problem starts with the law. The country does not have a proper regulation on how to dispose garbage, and that’s why waste is disposed everywhere. Desperate urchins have to round seeking employment,” he said.

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