Categories: Health & Fitness

Garbage collectors’ strike: what health impact?

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Nearly 6,000 tonnes of waste were counted on Sunday in the streets of Paris alone. Mountains of trash and rubbish are piling up as the garbage collectors strike against the pension reform, which is expected to last at least until March 20. Inevitably, beyond visual and olfactory discomfort, the situation worries the French, and rightly so.

Garbage cans, rats… what health impact?

At the respiratory levelthe decomposition of the waste can emit toxic gases, such as sulphur, lead or carbon dioxide. THE bacteria that multiply as fast as the number of trash cans on the sidewalks can spread through the air, especially in strong winds. People with asthma or any other breathing illness are particularly at risk to suffer from this situation.

Questioned by 20 Minutes, the doctor in animal toxicology Romain Lasseur is clear: “We must not minimize the microbiological risks, the very smell that it gives off reflects the colonization of garbage cans by bacteria” (source 1). The accumulation of debris can make more polluted air and waterwhich may indirectly have an effect on health.

“While previous experiences (note: past strikes) did not seem to lead to an epidemic or imminent danger to public health, it remains necessary, as in any exceptional situation, to strengthen health surveillance”, indicated the Regional Health Agency (ARS) 20 minutes away.

Another major risk: disease transmission by rats, whose population should surely increase in the coming weeks. The Academy of Medicine had launched the alert last summer: “the overpopulation of sewer rats in big cities is a real danger to public health“, in particular because of the “bacterial, viral and parasitic zoonoses of which it can be a vector” (source 2). Rats can indeed, through their urine in particular, transmit many diseases to humans, some of which are fatal: leptospirosis, in increase for several years, but also ringworm, toxoplasmosis, bubonic plague, or even salmonellosis…

What preventive measures?

To limit the risks, residents, children and pets must limit contact with waste as much as possible.

In its press release, the Academy of Medicine recommended that town halls have a “rigorous and sustainable urban cleanliness plan to eliminate food waste accessible to rodents” as well as “vigorous rat extermination campaigns in homes and the environment. urban”. At the individual level, it is necessary properly wrap your waste before throwing them in an appropriate place.

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