From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
An environmentalist, Jibril Mohammed, says the usage of polystyrene items by food vendors to serve foods at social occasions is destructive to the environment.
Mohammed, who is an environmentalist with an NGO, Metrol Environment in Nigeria, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Thursday.
He said that millions of ‘‘take away food items” in polystyrene bags were being used daily by thousands of food sellers in market across the 36 states.
‘‘The demand for polystyrene packs is on the increase due to how food vendors and buyers use it as takeaway packs for comfort.
‘‘The problem is that polystyrene material is contributing in causing more danger to human, animals and even aquatic lives,’’ he said.
According to him, polystyrene packs do usually take 500 years before they decompose, and this is harmful to the environment.
‘‘Polystyrene items are dominating our trash dump centres, streams, drainages and rivers, which is causing serious challenges to farmers, causing floods and diseases.’’
‘‘Hot foods and liquids actually start a partial breakdown of the Styrofoam, causing some toxins to be absorbed into our bloodstream and tissue.
‘‘Polystyrene food containers leach the toxin Styrene when they come into contact with hot food or drink, alcohol, oils and acidic foods causing human contamination and pose a health risk to people.’’
He advised that people should avoid drinking tea with lemon, coffee with dairy cream, fruit juices, alcoholic beverages and wine from Styrofoam cups.
‘‘Millions of aquatic lives died as a result of increasing dumping of polystyrene bags into the oceans and small streams.
‘‘It (polystyrene bag) pollute the environment and this is a big threat to the existence of human beings,’’ he stressed.
Mohammed said that burning polystyrene bags also contribute to pollution of the environment through constant release of carbon monoxide, which is dangerous for respiration in humans.
‘‘Government must encourage recycling companies in bringing new innovative ways of recycling take away packs so as to save the community against burning it,’’ he said.
He urged environmental NGOs, CSOs and other stakeholders to join hands in raising more awareness on how to mitigate the effects of these hazards on humans and animals.