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    Urban Solid Waste
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State indicators

State indicators for waste issues have unique characteristics, since they do not involve a specific medium such as air or water, but affect various media and even human health. Although information on environmental quality is available, such as the presence of pollutants in water, relating this information to a specific cause or sector is extremely complex. This section focuses on the state indicators from the environmental management perspective , while environmental effects are addressed in other chapters. This decision comes from the proposal by the National Institute of Ecology in the Indicators for Environmental Performance Assessment (Semarnap-INE, 1997, 2000).


Final disposal of urban solid waste

The deficit in the number and capacity of landfills -that is, sites with adequate infrastructure for the confinement of RSU- as well as the inefficiency of RSU management systems, translate into risks for the population (due to the negative health effects, especially for the poor) and the environment (OPS, 2005; IBAM, 2006). The impacts of inadequate waste management include contamination of air, soil, surface water and aquifers; biogas generation (with the ensuing risks from its toxicity and explosiveness); emission of greenhouse gases (mostly carbon dioxide and methane), the aesthetic deterioration of urban and natural landscapes; and health risks for people living near or even in USW disposal sites (Sedesol-INE, 1993; EPA, 1999; MEA, 2005; IBAM, 2006).

The health impact of USW is related to diseases borne by vectors (rats, flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes and pigs), such as bubonic pest, murine typhus, leptospirosis, typhoid, dysentery, giardiasis, malaria, leishmaniasis, yellow fever, dengue , filariasis, cysticercosis, toxoplasmosis, trichinosis and taeniasis (Davidson et al., 1992; Acurio et al., 1997; Rodríguez-Domínguez, 2002). Furthermore, the concentration of dioxins and related compounds in breast milk has been confirmed to be higher in women living near USW landfills (Kunisue et al., 2004). The indicator Final disposal of urban solid waste denotes the state of USW management in Mexico. This indicator, expressed in terms of the proportion of USW that is disposed of in sanitary landfills or controlled sites, is also included in other initiatives on environmental indicators and sustainable development, particularly those by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), the Latin American and Caribbean Initiative for Sustainable Development (ILAC) and the European Union.