Water Pollution as Public Health Enemy. Let’s Think Beyond Medicine! (part #1)

Nowadays, the emerging issue of water pollution caused by industrial effluent is somewhat overwhelming. It happens not just in urban area but also in rural area as well. It threatens, eventually, individual’s and people’s well-being.

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As a general practitioner, I have some responsibilities to solve the health community problems. Most of these problems are strongly intertwined with broad factors. Environment is one of them. I’ve met a lot of patients who suffered from environmentally-related disease like diarrhea, irritation, and so on. This can be prevented if people had striven together and more responsible to protect the environment where they live in. In regarding to this water pollution issue, I can see it as a good entry point for the people to enable themselves caring for their health and surrounding.

Most of industry players are not aware of what their waste will cost on the environment. Thus, they haven’t applied any specific strategy to treat their toxic waste. In addition, waste treatment will be undoubtedly expensive if they can not operate it effectively and do not have skillful staff who can manage this waste. However, I strongly believe, as we grow more concerns on this issue, there will be some solutions  which merit immediate act upon them.

In my opinion, there is a wide range of strategies by which we can solve problem of water pollution caused by industrial waste. These efforts comprise of multilevel collaboration and have to work on both top-down and bottom-up action.

Firstly, in top-down strategy, the government have to play a central role in making clear regulation about industrial waste treatment. This policy, too, need to affect all kind of industries, including small industries. Government may support this step by taking control on price of harmless industrial material or substance, for example subsidied non-toxic dye for garment manufacture. Yet, recruiting the best experts in environment sustainability, particularly those who majoring waste treatment skill are high-likely useful as well. These experts can be distributed to government or private, small or big companies to hold training for local workers. In this way, employers as well as employee may gain their skill in this field and reinforced to follow the rules. Along with this, government must encourage scientists to do research on finding the best method of reducing water pollution. This can be in the form of scholarship, patent right, and other rewarding appreciations.

On the other hand, besides stakeholders can make one or two policies to regulate the use of toxic chemical and dangerous production process within factories. They can even help to establish friendly-environment sensibility by making reward and punishment rules. It involves giving “safe” label and charging less taxes on products which have been through the recommended manufacturing process. Otherwise, this company will be fined and government may refuse to purchase products from harmful process. The name or brands then can be put on a list and declared to the public that people may aware of what products/companies support environment protection. However, I’d prefer the government should promote the rewarding effort more than the punishment.

The next strategy is from the bottom or we may say from the community itself. This involves community engagement to create sustainable environment. Nowadays people are getting much aided by technology. Community can use this technology advancement to gather skillful people who want to protect their environment and willing to engage in partrnership, for instance by using open platform to educate locals and small industry owners, so that they can understand the importance of environment protection and willing to start reduce their waste. Community itself also central in controlling and changing consumers’ behavior which benefit the environment, for instance consistently hold a campaign to promote purchasing environment-friendly products. This effort will influence consumers conscience and instill moral value when they want to buy something they need. Furthermore, the community, just like the government, can denounce toxic corporate and celebrate success those who use nontoxic product by using media. By doing this way, the business players will be enforced to take important steps in engaging to the environmentally sustainable practices.

Lastly, the most paramount effort must come from the industry field itself. As currently environmental sustainability is a topical issue that receives plenty attention from the public, people are more concern to the impact of human activity can have on the environment. This trend must be fully understood by businesses so they have a sense of responsibility to reduce business’ negative impacts on the environment. Actually, there are many proven effective and cheap methods to treat the industrial waste. For instance, in my country,  small tofu factories start to use biofiltration to process their sewage. This biofiltration uses eichhornia crassipes (Eceng Gondok) species which widely available and easy to grow.

Nevertheless, there are number of points that strongly support the business case for environmental sustainability. First, by moving towards environmentally sustainable practices, the business will have  a head start over many its competitors. If they fail to act now, they will suffer significant loss in the middle of high number of regulations that may incurring expenses and charges to business who doesn’t meet the minimum standard in relation to environment protection. Second, business can reduce its expenses in the medium to long term because enviromentally sustainable practices making business more enegy efficient. For example by reuse and recycling industry waste. Another advantage is business can be convinced that it may also have a competitive edge when it comes to attracting customers and investors.

It is clear that there are many solutions to act upon and yet they highly correlates to each other. Thus, all of the proposed strategies must be taken into account.

How can youth contribute to environmental sustainability with coexistent of local traditional industry? Keep reading on the next part!
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