Litter can be hazardous for a number of reasons – both to humans and to wildlife.
We have all at some time or another stood in dog mess – a very unpleasant thing to do, even if it is just a case of getting it cleaned off shoes.
But did you know that dog faeces poses a serious risk to humans? The roundworm Toxocara canis is present in approximately 50% of dog faeces and can cause the infection Toxocariasis in humans. For further information see Dog Fouling.
Discarded food and packaging
Discarded food and its packaging can attract vermin such as rats and mice. Rats spread disease such as Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease), which can be fatal.
Flies are also attracted to waste food and can also spread disease.
Broken glass poses an obvious threat to both humans and animals. Discarded wire or food cans may also be dangerous.
Cuts from sharp objects like glass or metal can even result in Tetanus (Lockjaw), caused by a bacterium in the soil.
Discarded needles can spread infections including Hepatitis B and C.
Large items thathave been irresponsibly dumped, such as fridges, freezers and washing machines, can trap and suffocate small children.
Litter and other rubbish can also present a fire risk, particularly if allowed to build up in a confined area.
The fire at Valley Parade football stadium in Bradford in 1985 was caused by a match or cigarette end which wasn’t properly extinguished. Fire spread through the terraces as rubbish left under the seats caught fire.
Risks to wildlife
Wildlife, farm animals and pets are also adversely affected by irresponsible littering.
Small animals can be trapped in drinks cans and other discarded rubbish.
Plastic bags can suffocate if ingested.
Wire, plastic ties and even plastic bags can cause strangulation.