Landfill is the simplest and most commonly used method of disposing municipal solid waste (MSW). In Nigeria, they are better categorized as open dumps, sited for convenience and usually involve the pitching of waste in pre-existing pits. In Lagos, the most populated city in Nigeria, most of these open pits are located near residential quarters and therefore pose a threat to public health and the environment. The absence of containment systems at the sites allows the possible percolation of leachate into groundwater. In addition, the methane gas generated as a result of bacterial degradation of waste is not collected and poses a potential fire hazard. The sites harbour numerous scrap tyres which not only fuel the fires but are also breeding grounds for disease transmitting vermin. Landfill fires especially those involving tyres emit dioxin which can cause reproductive impairment and cancer in humans at extremely low concentrations. Scavenging birds at these sites are potential carriers of diseases. This paper examines the potential environmental and health risks posed by some unsanitary MSW landfills in Lagos, Nigeria and calls for the need to start adopting modern waste management practices to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.


Landfill remains the simplest and the most commonly used method for disposing municipal solid waste[4]. In most low to medium income developing nations like Nigeria, almost 100 percent of generated waste goes to landfills[17]. In spite of the recycling and composting of greater amounts of municipal solid waste (MSW) in the United States in the last forty years, the majority of MSW generated still end up in landfills[16]. Landfill Mining

While wastes are disposed in open dumps in developing nations; these have become obsolete and historical in the developed countries. Sanitary landfills which are well- engineered facilities (with liners, leachate collection/ treatment system, and gas collection system) are now used to ensure the protection of human health and the environment. These modern landfills are regulated under strict federal and state regulations and are therefore specially sited, designed, operated, monitored, closed, and cared for after closure to ensure environmental performance[16]. However, it is different in Nigeria, where the unsanitary landfills are not subject to strict regulations, and are usually sited for convenience, such as the presence of a pre-existing hole (created from sand mining activities) into which waste could be deposited[17].Landfill Mining

According to Daskalopoulous et al.[9], landfilling in developing countries typically involves pitching refuse into a depression or closed mining site. In Lagos, Nigeria, some of these open pits are located near residential housing and therefore represent a threat to human health and the environment. This paper attempts to identify the potential health and environmental hazards posed by some unlined municipal solid waste landfills in Igando area of Lagos metropolis, Nigeria. Landfill Mining

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