Beirut River turned into a landfill (Reuters/Mohamed Azakir)

Why is everyone warning us about the first rains? What will happen when it rains with all this garbage around? The truth is Lebanon will be facing a very serious health crisis if the garbage is not removed in time. I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for two days now but I don’t know much about it so I asked a friend who’s an environmentalist to help out and I spotted yesterday a very useful article on on the results of this garbage crisis on our overall health.

Wet Garbage = Water Pollution

So what exactly happens when it starts to rain? Heavy rainstorms will “cause the garbage to disintegrate into the soil reaching underground water reserves such as natural wells and fossil water (non-renewable)”, which means that diluted garbage would “sink into the soil, spreading downwards and outwards in a characteristic brush-stroke shape known as a plume, contaminating soil and water as it moved”.

As far as the Beirut River is concerned, here’s what eTobb had to say:

In addition to that, recently circulated images of Nahr Beirut show immense quantities of garbage blocking the path of the scarcely flowing river (in summer alone). The latter river is known to absorb and take in large amounts of rainfall every year, sometimes overflowing naturally due to weather changes; and now that we know that Nahr Beirut is completely blocked by piles and piles of stinking, harmful and poisonous garbage, only one destiny is bound to this year’s first rainfall with those piles of garbage which will definitely overflow, sending trash all over the roads and residential neighborhoods, down the water sewers and into the ground which will increase the risk of dangerous diseases, mutated insects, polluted water, air and vegetation and on the long run, we can expect plagues similar to those humanity witnessed during the major wars due to uncontrolled numbers of rats roaming the streets on a garbage feeding frenzy. Last but not least, let’s not forget how many hot and humid days have passed while the garbage was left out on the streets, fermenting, rotting, decomposing and vaporizing into the atmosphere, bringing a new threat our way, a threat that will affect each and every once of us, Acid Rain.

In addition to that:

– Landfills contaminate the air that we are breathing with various toxic substances.
– Contaminated water could lead to the widespread of several diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid, Dysentery and Dengue Fever. Add to that typhoid fever, food poisoning, gastroenteritis, and enteric fever.
– Populations exposed to untreated chemicals witness an increase in cancer rates.

The garbage crisis has been ongoing for 3 months now and the Lebanese authorities are still wasting their time on organizing national dialogue sessions instead of forming an emergency committee, encouraging people to recycle, reducing waste and trying to figure out solutions.