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Face mask waste increased in Dimapur — Study

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By Livine Khrozhoh Updated: Oct 07, 2021 1:15 am
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Albert Ezung releasing the report project on at DMC office, Dimapur on Wednesday. (EM Images)

Our Report
Dimapur, Oct. 6 (EMN):
There is an alarming increase in disposable face mask waste in Dimapur, a research study has revealed.

Niksungla, Founder and Chairman of Living for Environment (LiFE), said that they carried out the research project with Dimapur as the target area.

The study was funded by International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences Forum (IATSS) and was undertaken by IAAI with PEKKORN international and LiFE as the implementing agencies.

Through the study, it was identified that there are 802 sellers and retailers in Dimapur city, and as many as 4,552 pieces weighing 13.6 kg of disposable face mask were sold daily.

The study also showed that the methods of disposal were through Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC), community receptacles and bins, and self-disposed or indiscriminate disposal.

Aokonang Ozukum, Vice chairman of LiFE, said that the research was based on providing information to people to make them realise how much disposable face mask is being generated in a day.

Presenting the study project, Niksungla said that the objective of the study was to identify the sellers of disposable masks within Dimapur city and identify establishments using it; the methods of disposal practised and others.

She shared that efforts were made to obtain data of sellers and users but attempts to cover all the healthcare facilities (HCFs) and identifying the institutional users of disposal face mask were thwarted by the lockdown restrictions and Covid-19 apprehensions. However, data of few HCF and educational establishments that permitted entry has been included, she added.

Sharing on the limitations of the study, Niksungla said that factors like non-maintenance of proper day-to-day business records by the sellers, Covid-19 restrictions and limited funds affected the accuracy of the estimation.

She also recommended that up-to-date data of all commercial establishments selling disposable face masks be maintained.

The solid waste management rules mandate segregation of waste but the same cannot be implemented. However, considering the biohazard risk posed by disposable face mask waste, it is imperative that directions to collect or store the disposed face mask waste separately from other waste be issued and observed, she stated.

‘The issue with HCFs and biomedical waste is complex, as with no bio-medical treatment plant or incinerator, the only feasible option comes in dumping the waste in the DMC dumpsite’, she added. Some HCFs have built makeshift incinerators/furnaces within the premises, she added.

Niksungla further suggested that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, HCFs should be directed to collect and store disposable face-masks separately from other waste and it should be disposed of within its premises.

Further, she also stressed on sensitising the ‘special class’ of the society to make them aware about segregation of waste and disposable face-mask utilisation.

‘An area can be identified within the vicinity for safely disposing of the disposable face mask waste and instructions should be provided to dispose of only disposable face mask waste and not other waste,’ she suggested.

They also recommend that the authorities should look into third-party collaboration for addressing not only the issue of disposable face mask waste but also any gaps in the existing waste management system.

Administration of DMC Albert Ezung informed that for the disposal of bio-medical waste, ‘it is in the process and the government has also asked us to identify a suitable place for setting up bio-medical waste plant, and so we are in a process of identifying one, and for this we are working closely with the Medical department”.

‘Waste management is something which cannot be done by single agencies but it requires the participation of the community itself,’ he added.

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By Livine Khrozhoh Updated: Oct 07, 2021 1:15:30 am