Some 1000 people die from air pollution annually in Ghana – AMA

Every year in Ghana, 1000 people die from air pollution such as lung disorders, stroke and blood pressure. The leading causes of air pollution in the country’s capital city, Accra has been attributed to indiscriminate burning of waste, fumes from vehicles and unclean cooking methods.

Mr Desmond Appiah, the Chief Sustainability Advisor at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) made this known during an engagement with community leaders and traders on the Urban Health Initiative (UHI), BreatheLife Accra Project.

The project, according to a report available to is being undertaken in collaboration with the World Health Organisation with support from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. It seeks to improve air quality in Accra.

In a bid to create awareness of the consequences of air pollution, the Assembly has brought together stakeholders who are vulnerable to poor air quality. “We believe the first step is getting data and sharing the information, Mr Appiah said.”

“This project has been going on for about a year now, we have engaged selected communities, churches, and schools among others, and we believe that it is right to bring together street vendors, informal waste collectors and pickers, market women as well as transport operators to have an appreciation of the challenge and what can be done about it.”

Mr Appiah said that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had introduced a law to prohibit vehicles that produced fumes in the city and the driver arrested.

Dr Kofi Amegah, a Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Cape Coast, in a presentation on “Air pollution in Accra City: Vulnerable Populations, Health Impacts and Interventions”, said air pollution was a major environmental risk to health.

He attributed major sources of air pollution in Accra to vehicular emissions, industrial emissions, suspended road dust, emissions from landfill sites, power generation plants, use of solid fuels for domestic and commercial cooking and solid waste burning at home.

“Seven million people die prematurely every year from air pollution and among these deaths 34 per cent, 21 per cent, and 20 per cent are from Ischaemic heart diseases, pneumonia and strokes, respectively,” Dr Amegah said.

According to him, 19 per cent of the deaths associated with air pollution were also from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease while 7 per cent were from lung cancer.

Air pollution is the presence of substances in the atmosphere that were harmful to the health of humans and other living beings, or cause damage to the climate or to materials some of which, Dr Amegah says could be solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, methane and chlorofluorocarbons, particulates, and organic and inorganic biological molecules.

“I would like to advise that we patronise public transport, ride bicycles and use Liquefied Petroleum Gas instead of using firewood,” he said.

While the Chief Sustainability Advisor at AMA called on residents to desist from burning waste to reduce air pollution, Dr Kofi Amegah also urged drivers to service their vehicles regularly to reduce pollution. He noted that it is the responsibility of every individual to ensure the cleanliness of the city.

Source: GNA

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