Industrial and Municipal Dumpsites

Industrial and Municipal Dumpsites

Fact Sheet: Industrial and Municipal Dumpsites – Ranked #5


Estimated DALYs: 1,234,000


What is the industry?


Waste at industrial or municipal dumpsites can include batteries, scrap metal, agricultural waste, and medical waste from hospitals, household waste and chemical waste from industrial processes. Dumpsites that create pollution problems generally consist of two different types of waste disposal, open, unregulated dumpsites and municipal landfills. Open dumpsites are unregulated informal sites where individuals or industries dump a variety of solid or liquid waste. Municipal sites that are polluted may be operated by the government or a private entity but are poorly constructed and employ only limited measures for protection against pollution and may include abandoned, uncapped landfills.


What are the pollutants?


Lead and chromium are the top pollutants by DALY at dumpsites. They are present through the disposal of products containing heavy metals, or through industrial waste and hazardous waste like paint or batteries. Because the diverse nature of waste dumped at these sites, there could potentially be a much higher impact from the cumulative impact of combined pollutants, including possible pollutants not yet defined in our site investigations.


What are the exposure pathways?


The main sources of pollutants from dumpsites are either contaminated liquids leaching into the groundwater, or dust from poorly covered or controlled landfills. Children often are seen playing in and around dumpsites causing direct contact with hazardous waste through dermal contact, inhalation of dust or accidental ingestion. Informal workers who sort valuable from waste are also directly exposed to pollutants.


What are the health risks?


When lead is inhaled or ingested it is stored in the body and accumulates over time. Lead is designated as a possible human carcinogen, and can cause neurological, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems. Neurological problems include mild mental retardation, decreased IQ, shortened attention spans, loss of executive function, increased dyslexia and diminished productivity and disproportionally affect children. Chromium is a known carcinogen that is proven to cause lung cancer from inhalation and is suspected to cause stomach cancer through ingestion.

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