Which gas is produced in open dumps from the decomposition of biodegradable waste? (16 effects of methane) 

In this article, it shall be explored which gas is produced in open dumps from the decomposition of biodegradable waste. Other topics that shall be covered too would include: 

  • What is biodegradable waste?
  • Why is biodegradable waste important?
  • How is waste discarded?
  • What is an open dump?
  • What is the relation between Methane and global warming?

Which gas is produced in open dumps from the decomposition of biodegradable waste?

Methane is produced from the decomposition of biodegradable waste in open dumps. Methane is quite harmful to both the environment and human health. Methane is a very strong greenhouse gas (80 times more potent than carbon dioxide). 

Methane is involved in the formation of ground-level ozone which is toxic to life. Methane also causes the yellowing of plants’ leaves.

Research states that methane leads to 1 million premature deaths every year. Other medical effects of methane are headaches, nausea, mood changes, imbalance, and blurred vision to name a few. 

What is biodegradable waste?

Biodegradable waste is waste that can be degraded by nature. Biodegradable waste is usually made up of natural materials which can be broken down by the action of microbes. 

Biodegradability is the process through which complex substances are broken down into simpler substances by the action of microbes and various other mediators such as air, and water. 

Biodegradability is the earth’s natural way of dealing with and discarding waste. It may also be assumed that nature is innately programmed to dispose of waste because of the negative impacts of waste on the environment and life in general. 

Concerning biodegradability, there is a rule of thumb among environmentalists. That is natural substances are readily biodegradable whereas man-made substances are not readily biodegradable. 

Plastic is perhaps the best example when it comes to the topic of biodegradability; also conveying why biodegradability is so important for life on earth. 

Plastics are polymers that are synthetic or in other words man-made. These polymers are designed and structured in a way to give off maximum economic benefits. However, the structure of these polymers makes it unable for microbes to break them down.

As a result, plastics remain in the environment for hundreds of years. Some researchers say that it may take more than 400 years for plastics to biodegrade. 

During this span, plastics cause almost innumerable negative impacts on the environment, animals, plants and human health. 

Plastics are linked to species endangerment, loss of life, pollution, pH change, deterioration of water quality, skin and eye allergies, reproductive complications, neurological dysfunctions, and even cancers.

Why is there a need for biodegradable waste?

It is a question of piqued interest why is there a need for biodegradable waste? Or in other words, what would happen if there is only non-biodegradable waste?

For this, consider the following metaphor. Imagine that for some reason you are unable to dump away the waste produced in your house? What do you think will happen?

Your house will become dirty and polluted, right? The same is the case for biodegradable waste; however, the magnitude in the case of the latter increases many times.

Biodegradability can be called earth’s dustbin because it is nature’s way of discarding waste to make sure that wastes do not cause any harm to the environment and life in general.

The current world’s population stands at 8 billion people which is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Due to this, it is estimated that the world’s population will trespass the threshold of 11 billion by 2100. 

These great figures are not just great for the paper but for the earth as well. More population means more consumerism and as a result more waste production.

With the increasing population, it is becoming increasingly difficult for authorities to manage waste. In this scenario, the dependency on nature’s way of waste disposal is higher than ever. 

That is why biodegradable waste is very important for our survival. Otherwise, the negative consequences of non-biodegradable waste will make our survival on this planet close to miserable and beyond reversion. 

How is waste discarded?

It needs to be explored how waste is discarded. Usually, there are some options or inclinations that are observed when it comes to the disposal of waste. 

These methods may be:

  • Landfill
  • Incineration
  • Waste Compaction
  • Biogas generation
  • Composting 
  • Vermicomposting

Environmentalists assert that before the disposal of waste, the three R (Reuse, Recycle and Reduce) should be considered and prioritised. 

A landfill is basically the use of land to dispose of waste. Layers of soil are stacked after each layer of waste so that the detrimental impacts of waste are not spread around. Usually, landfills are controlled setups that overlook a number of processes related to waste.

However, such controlled landfills are mostly limited to most developed states while in other regions, many factors are under-looked and because of that harm is caused to life nearby.

Incineration is the process of controlled burning of garbage. The waste is first treated as well before this process because this burning may lead to the release of toxic gases. Regardless, this process is hard on the environment due to the production of carbon dioxide. 

Waste Compaction is the process of compacting waste by the use of force. This results in decreased volume and hence it becomes easier to deal with waste. 

Biogas Generation is the conversion of biodegradable waste to biogas by the action of microbes including fungi, bacteria et cetera. This biogas then can be used for a number of purposes such as fuel. 

Composting is the process through which nutrient-rich manure is produced from biodegradable waste. This manure can be used for a variety of purposes including use as fertilisers or to improve the quality of the soil. 

Vermicomposting is the same as composting with the basic difference that worms are used to make nutrient-rich manure instead of microbes. 

What is an open dump?

An open dump is an illegal and unsustainable site where wastes are simply dumped without any check and balance or regulation. These open dumps are usually present in areas where there is poor implementation of the law. 

However, it is also seen that open dumps are also found in developed regions as well. The primary drivers of this unsustainable action are ignorance, lack of awareness and non-willingness to contribute to a green future. 

Open dumps open up a lot of problems for the community at large. That is because the waste disposed of in open dumps can exhibit toxic traits for the land, animals nearby, the environment, and also to humans. 

For example, if let’s say materials like drywall mud are disposed of in open dumps, their degradation would release toxic gases. These gases not only damage the environment but also cause medical problems in humans including cancer. 

It is due to the existence of environmental anomalies like open dumps that rift apart biodegradable from eco-friendly. Biodegradable materials have to be disposed of in the right setups to make sure they do not affect life and the environment. 

However, when biodegradable material is disposed of in open dumps they stem a cascade of detrimental effects. 

As per the statistical findings, more than 40 percent of global waste is disposed of in open dumps. These occurrences give rise to environmental problems including soil pollution, water pollution (ground and surface), open burning, and decreased vegetation. 

Which gas is produced by the decomposition of biodegradable waste in open dumps?

Methane gas is produced by the decomposition of biodegradable waste in open dumps. Methane is highly damaging to the environment.

Other than open dumps, the major source of methane is agriculture and livestock emissions. 

The various negative impacts of methane are mentioned: 

  • Formation of ground-level ozone
  • Hazardous air pollutant 
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Yellowing of plant leaves (chlorosis) 
  • Global Warming

Among the impacts of methane on health, there are: 

  • Memory loss 
  • Nausea 
  • Blurred vision
  • Mood changes
  • Psychological impacts
  • Behavioural changes
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Abnormal heart rate 
  • Numbness
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Headaches 

What is the relation between Methane and global warming?

Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. Research shows that methane is responsible for more than 30% of the entire global warming. Compared to carbon dioxide, methane is 80 times more effective in terms of global warming. 

Global warming is a serious issue that concerns environmentalists a lot. Global warming causes a lot of serious environmental problems. These problems are temperature rise, drought, water shortages, unprecedented weather patterns, flooding, and pest invasions– to name a few. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that methane is produced by the decomposition of biodegradable waste in open dumps. Methane is a high-potent greenhouse gas and air pollutant. 

Methane causes a number of serious environmental and medical complications conveying that the occurrence of open dumps is a serious threat to life and the environment.

Governments and authorities need to make sure that exposure to methane is avoided by making sure that no open dumps are illegally maintained and used. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Which gas is produced in open dumps from the decomposition of biodegradable waste?

Are open dumps legal?

No, open dumps are illegal and must not be allowed to be used. It is the responsibility of the state to make sure that such illegal activity is halted. Citizens should also play their part and report against open dumps. 

Are open dumps only present in developing countries?

No, open dumps also exist in developed countries as well. According to research, more than 44% of the global waste produced ends up in open dumps including developed countries as well. 

References

  • Badr, O., Probert, S. D., & O’callaghan, P. W. (1991). Atmospheric methane: Its contribution to global warming. Applied energy, 40(4), 273-313.
  • Van Amstel, A. (2012). Methane. A review. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 9(sup1), 5-30.
  • Kaza, S., Yao, L., Bhada-Tata, P., & Van Woerden, F. (2018). What a waste 2.0: a global snapshot of solid waste management to 2050. World Bank Publications.

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