CITIZENS Environmental and Social Concern (CESCo) executive director Conwell Hakapya says the lack of a proper disposal system for Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) remains a challenge.

In an interview, Hakapya said the use of incinerators in the disposal of PPEs in residential areas had negative effects on the environment and human health.

“PPEs such as face masks and medicals from the hospitals, clinics, and health centres increased, that has been the biggest challenge. And the problem is we do not have a proper disposal system in this country for hospital medical waste. PPEs, especially face masks, are indiscriminately disposed of, which is not very good for the environment, that in itself pollutes the soil and water. People keep throwing them everywhere and [they] find themselves in our water source which is quite unfortunate,” he said.

“The incinerators are very bad. The incinerators that we have in our hospitals, if you go there, they are short, it is easier for the smoke to get down and people inhale different chemicals and diseases that are being incinerated in those places. It’s so funny, if you are driving along Independence Avenue just near State House, they have put the incinerators on the roadside, near the wall fence along Independence Avenue inside Maina Soko [military hospital]. All the medical waste that is incinerated there circulates in the air that we breathe, which is unhealthy.”

And Hakapya said the lockdown restrictions that were imposed when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak helped reduce air and water pollution due to less human activities.

“The lockdown restrictions like working from home, closures of non-essential businesses, and travel restrictions like plane flights, buses, and trains reduced the carbon emissions, which is a positive thing. Fossil fuel consumption was low, we had reduced air and water pollution due to less human activities, and when most industries had closed. Air pollution was reduced which was good and even gave the ecology space to regenerate and restore itself,” said Hakapya.