Hawkers, Motorists In Danger From Air Pollution — Report

Air pollution in the capital city is rising at an alarming rate and it can be detrimental to the health of the public, a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) has said.

Mr Kofi Amegah, who is also a member of the Public Health Research Group of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, UCC, said street vendors, police, traffic wardens, toll booth and fuel station attendants and commuters were among the most vulnerable groups of persons that could suffer respiratory and cardiovascular diseases due to the rise in air pollution in Accra.

"We found particulate matter (PM) exposure among street traders to increase occurrence of respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms and also found levels of PM2.5 and PM10 at traffic hotspots in Accra — where street vending and hawking predominantly take place — to be high in both the wet and dry seasons,” he said.

Particulate matter is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air.


Mr Amegah made this known when he delivered the findings of a research report titled: "Air pollution in Accra City: Vulnerable Population, Health Impacts and Intervention” at the Accra Urban Health Initiative Science Policy Dialogue in Accra last Friday.

The forum was organised by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and brought together individuals who were identified as vulnerable or at greater risk of suffering from the negative impact of air pollution.

Mr Amegah said the major sources of air pollution in Accra were vehicular emissions, industrial emissions, re-suspended road dust and emissions from landfill sites.

Power generation plants, use of solid fuels for domestic and commercial cooking and solid waste burning in homes were also counted as the major causes of air pollution in the capital city.

Public health

Mr Amegah noted that the report was expected to encourage the government to begin to implement policies that would help control the level of air pollution in Accra to safeguard public health as a matter of urgency.

“We expect these findings to influence air pollution control policies in metropolitan areas of Ghana to help protect and improve the health of street vendors and other vulnerable populations,” he said.

He said the future consequences of air pollution in Accra would be grave for the country and, therefore, urged individuals and institutions to be ambassadors of the fight against air pollution to reduce the pollutants in the city’s atmosphere. 

Meanwhile, a new report by the Urban Health Initiative (UHI) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the country could prevent up to 5,500 premature deaths with improvements to air quality.

Building consensus

A technical advisor to the Chief Executive Officer of the AMA, Mr Desmond Appiah, told the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of the forum that the assembly had brought together the identified groups of persons who were more likely to suffer the harsh consequences of air pollution in the city to help build a consensus on how to tackle the devastating impact of air pollution on public health. 

He said similar forums would be organised for other groups of people who were exposed to poor air quality to increase their awareness of some of the effects of inhaling polluted air.

He explained that the project, which was being funded by the WHO, was being implemented by the AMA in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

Mr Appiah said although some policy engagement had already been held as part of the project implementation, the forum was expected to bring the raw data from the report to the doorstep of the most vulnerable to poor air quality to help them appreciate the severity of the situation.