The change-over to disposable containers seems rapid, without consideration of its effects on health and environment
ISLAMABAD: Disposable containers used to store food items and made of materials like thermocol are being used increasingly, especially at take-away fast food shops, in the hotel and catering industry and, to a lesser extent, at the household level. The change-over from the use of ceramics, glass and china crockery to disposable containers seems rapid and without due consideration of its effects on public health and the environment. Thermocol is considered a cancer suspect agent and could increase thyroid hormone levels. Its prolonged use for food storage can be a health risk and may affect the central nervous system. Heating these disposable containers in microwave ovens should be avoided, especially for food containing carotene and Vitamin A.
Disposable containers are used for commercial and economic reasons. However, economic gains need to be considered vis-a-vis environmental costs and health concerns. If the cost of environmentally sound disposable waste management is taken into consideration, one wonders how economical the use of disposable containers would be. Most disposable waste is generated due to the lifestyle of the elite class, but the environmental and health impacts are faced mostly by the poor. The Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the Ministry of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency are requested to look into this emerging health and environmental issue and take necessary measures.
Dr Mahmood A Khwaja
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2015.
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