In a study conducted by the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) twenty samples of milk collected from cows contained traces of dioxins. The cows had been brought to the veterinary hospital after they developed gastroenterological problems, as a result of swallowing large amounts of plastic waste. The professors behind the study say dioxins can turn carcinogenic in some cases.

In recent cases, doctors at TANUVAS have had cases where cows had swallowed more than 25 kg of plastic. The study on the impact of plastic on the cow and its milk, however, ongoing and is expected to reveal interesting details. According to estimates, 500 households in the city could be dependent on milk from their milch cows and buffaloes.

“The toxication occurs when the plastic is stuck in the lumen of the cow for a long time. Besides bringing down the appetite of the cow, it contaminates the milk it produces as well. We are looking at how dangerous the impact is for the cattle and for people who are dependent on the milk,” said TANUVAS Vice-Chancellor R. Prabhakaran.

On an average, every month, 10 per cent of the cows brought to TANUVAS centres are diagnosed with excessive plastic consumption. “We get nearly seven cases every month now, which is alarming,” said a professor. The affected cow is put through a long surgery because the plastic forms a mould and gets stuck.

In a recent case of a cow that had swallowed over 20 kg of plastic, sharp items such as hairpins, pointed threads, safety pins too were taken out.

“Such cows, instead of 5 litres milk a day, give just about 2 litres,” he added.

The increase in number of cows swallowing huge amount of plastic is also because people are increasingly discarding their wastes in light garbage bags which are less than 20 micron. Cattle cannot spit, which makes them more vulnerable, said a professor.

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