Tightening pollution control and enforcing the already existing environmental laws could improve air quality and save thousands of lives everyday.
Mr. John A. Pwamang, Acting Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), made this known in a speech read on his behalf at a forum organized by the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), Centre for School and Community Science and Technology Studies (SACOST), to commemorate the United Nations World Environment celebration at Winneba.
The celebration was on the theme “Air Pollution: Greening the Blue” was attended by a number of school children, who are the target groups to help disseminate the message, teachers, some lecturers from UEW, the Effutu Assembly and the Effutu Directorate of the Ghana Education Service.
According to Mr. Pwamang, air pollution knows no boundary, and that, there was the need to collectively control emissions into the environment and called for immediate action to help fight it in Ghana now.
Pollutants in the air could stay in the atmosphere for shorter or longer periods, and poses serious Public Health Risks to humans, he said, adding that, indoor and outdoor pollution were currently the most significant environmental contributors to premature deaths in Africa, outpacing that of malaria and HIV-AIDS.
He stated that in 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) 2014, indicated that, one in eight of Global deaths is as a result of exposure to air pollution, “either ambient air pollution or household air pollution”, jointly causing around 6.5 million deaths per year.
“Over 45,000 African children under the age of 5 die annually due to air pollution (WHO-2012), which is one of the highest regional child mortality rates in the world”.
He said in Ghana, it is estimated that over 20,000 people die annually from exposure to air pollution, saying that, the EPA estimated that in 2015, 2,800 lives were lost in the Greater Accra Metropolitan area owing to the effects of air pollution, adding that, the number could increase to approximately 4,600 by 2030 if no action is taken to reduce current and projected future levels of air pollution.
He informed the gathering that health hazards of air pollution vary, and is often based on how long and how much a person is exposed to it and can cause Acute Respiratory infections, including pneumonia, in the short term, while in long term, it can lead to emphysema, where air sacs of the lungs are damaged leading to breathlessness, Lung cancer, Cataract, Low birth weight/Intra-uterine growth retardation and circulatory diseases.
He said air pollution is therefore, the single most important public health risk factor that affects practically everyone on the planet and that enforcement of existing laws to stop open burning of waste, the Police and the Driver’s Vehicle license Authority could help remove vehicles, which do not meet emission and efficiency standards from Ghana’s roads and an efficient public transport system to reduce traffic congestion and its resultant pollution in the Country, should be considered as a solution.
He said there was a need to take immediate action to fight Air pollution in Ghana.
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