NGO: Waste burning in Budapest ‘prevalent’ issue

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Waste burning is just as prevalent a problem in Budapest as it is in other parts of Hungary, according to a non-representative survey by environmental NGO Clean Air Action Group (Levegő Munkacsoport), a press release revealed today. Some 415 people filled out the online questionnaire in the two-week span of the survey.

Waste burning is only allowed in specialized facilities with stringent filtering systems. Only a handful of them can be found in Hungary, and their contribution to air pollution is negligible, according to the NGO. Unfortunately, a number of Hungarians burn waste in their stoves, furnaces or backyards, which is extremely harmful to our health, the NGO claims. 

Of the surveyed respondents, 45% reported that illegal waste burning is a daily occurrence. People mostly burn domestic waste, but furniture, PVC, rubber and rags are on the list as well. Most respondents either do nothing (28%) about illegal waste burning, or try to explain (26%) the severe health consequences to those who do burn waste.

The survey also found that people rarely turn to the municipality (19%), government offices (8%), the police (7%) or county offices (6%). Unfortunately, the authorities do not take any measures in the majority of the reported cases (57%). Even if an investigation is launched, it rarely leads to results.

Only three of the respondents reported that waste burning stopped as a result of intervention by an authority. Most people believe that ignorance is the main cause of waste burning (56%), 30% believe that it is caused by a mix of poverty and lack of information, and only 5% think it is only due to impoverished living conditions.

“The government has a huge responsibility, because a proper public awareness campaign is a very cost-effective way to significantly decrease air pollution from household waste burning,” said Péter Lenkei, Head of the Environmental Advisory Office of Clean Air Action Group. “Procrastination in this case raises special concerns since the damage to Hungary’s economy from air pollution alone is equal to 19% of our GDP, according to WHO,” he added.

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