By: Theophilus Franklyn ,Environmental Health Officer
In our first article titled “Environmental Health and Public events: Vincentian Perspectives”, we briefly discussed how public events or mass gathering activities impact the environment.
In this article, a more in-depth look into waste management issues and ways in which to mitigate the occurrence of proper waste management relating to mass gatherings will be discussed.
Waste can be defined as the disposal of unwanted materials or objects after being used. In the context of environmental health, we will take a look at waste disposal, both solid and liquid waste, at mass gatherings.
As stated earlier, mass gatherings are activities where the number of patrons overwhelm the health system and comes in the form of concerts and parties, just to name a few. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines mass gathering include carnival festivities and church gathering, etc.
Waste derived from the aforementioned activities, can pose many health risks/ hazards if not properly managed. Thus, it is important that during planning and execution, waste management, if not effectively managed can otherwise can be consequential to the environment, both on a long-term and short-term basis.
Solid waste such as plastics cup, plates, confetti, etc., cause the environment to appear unhealthy. They also make food for pests such as rodents and cockroaches, which transmit leptospirosis and dysentery, just to name a few.
In the Caribbean, leptospirosis has been on the up-rise, with the end-result being death as well as many other gastrointestinal diseases. This is predominantly prevalent after shows with large gatherings.
Liquid waste or human waste is an important aspect of mass gathering. This is so, because human waste or excreta can pose many serious illnesses to the environment, during the activity itself. This waste can pollute the environment such as soils and the waterways. This can transmit any faecal-oral disease as it contains human and animal excreta.
Proper waste management is another important aspect when planning mass gatherings and public events.
Waste management can be defined as all the activities that are required to manage waste from the point of collecting the waste to recycling and monitoring. This is to prevent the transmission and proliferation of disease within our community.
As such, some measures that can be taken into consideration during and after mass gatherings to mitigate waste management issues can include the following:
Solid waste must be disposed of as soon as the activity is concluded.
Waste, such as plastic bottles and cans, should be placed in separate bins.
Bins and waste skips should be located in different areas at events for easy disposal.
Garbage bags or bins should be placed at food and bar stalls.
Liquid waste must be stored in waste storage containers to be disposed of within 24 hours.
Portable toilets must be sufficient and proportionate to the total number of patrons, taking into consideration the time and duration of the event. For example, a total of 2 portable toilets would be sufficient for 500 patrons.
Hand washing stations must also be set-up and within close proximity to portable toilets.
Food stalls should be located away from washroom facilities.
In conclusion, waste management is an important aspect to consider when planning mass gatherings and also the aids in disease prevention.
Health is a shared responsibility for all.