Mr Muntaka Chasant, a Social Entrepreneur, has expressed worry over the lack of adequate information on air pollution in the country, which is affecting the campaign for a clean and safe environment towards promoting good health and national development.
He, therefore, called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to, as a matter of urgency, make data on air pollution available to pave the way for a more vigorous and sustainable fight against poor air quality.
Mr Chasant, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AirMask & Textiles Company Limited, an anti-pollution mask company in Accra, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday, said efforts to create awareness on air pollution would not achieve the desirable results without reliable data.
He noted that air quality monitoring was limited to about 15 locations – all in the Greater Accra Region and even with that data from those areas were not publicly accessible.
“This is partly why we are not talking about air pollution in Ghana. There is no data.”
Data on air pollution in Ghana usually came from international organisations such as the Health Effects Institute headquartered in Boston, United States, and the World Health Organisation and he wondered why the EPA could not regularly publish such information for the benefit of city dwellers, especially the elderly and people suffering from asthma and other respiratory tract diseases.
Air pollution was linked to deaths caused by cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and people in urban areas happened to be the worst affected due to poor air quality controls.
“Ghana’s health system may be heading for a crisis if we do not start tackling air pollution now. We are not taking air pollution seriously because the ultra-fine particles, which cause the most severe damage to our health, are not visible.”
He added that “the science of the health effects of air pollution from certain air pollutants is very advanced now. The science is absolutely certain about the link between PM2.5 and deaths from heart diseases, stroke and lung cancer.”
“Major sources of PM2.5 in Ghana are exhaust from old cars, smoke from the open burning of residential trash, dust, and soot from the use of charcoal and wood for cooking in open fires and leaky stoves.”
“These particles can penetrate deep into your lungs, even enter your bloodstream, and cause very serious health damage.”
Mr Chasant explained that PM2.5 were ultra-fine particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, up to about 30 times smaller than the width of a human air, and said: “Recent studies have linked air pollution to low birth weight, dementia, Alzheimer’s and a profound reduction in intelligence.”
He commended the Ministry of Transport for its decision to introduce electric buses and suggested the introduction of zero-emission zones in certain parts of the urban areas to improve air quality.
“A good start would be to ban or restrict the most polluting vehicles from entering city centres. It’s also time residents of areas such as Pantang, Abokobi and Akweteman in Accra start demanding answers for dust pollution from their deplorable roads.”