Air quality in Greater Accra reported to be unhealthy  

Air quality in Accra is unhealthy due to harmattan dust from northeast, household and bush burning activities, emissions from vehicles.

Light industrial activities such as automobile spraying and carpentry are also key contributors.

The air quality index as of February 10, 2022, indicates that the quality of air is hazardous, meaning the air is filled with dangerous particles and when inhaled could be harmful to the body.

It is above 18.7 times above the World Health Organisation annual air quality guideline value.

Mr. Emmanuel Appoh, the Head of Environmental Quality Department of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sidelines of a working visit to light industrial area of Accra.

He said the level of pollution was unhealthy for children, elderly and people with underlying conditions like asthma.

The EPA, he said, was taking steps such as public sensitisation and enforcement of best practices to ensure that light industrial activities were done according to standards to protect the health of the populace.

He noted that the chemicals/materials used for sanding and spraying by casket manufacturers and auto sprayers openly released heavy pollutants in the air.

Mr Appoh stated that persons involved in the activities, immediate occupants in the area, and the public were at risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections.

“Ideally these activities should not be done at residential areas due to the pollution levels. Workers are supposed to wear protective clothing, wear industrial nose masks and goggles but this is not the case,” he stated.

He said the EPA was working with other agencies to commence an initiative where air quality would be made known to the public through the media every six hours to guide people and enable them to take steps to protect themselves.

Mr Appoh said a study conducted by the Agency in 2015 estimated that 2,800 lives were lost due to the effects of air pollution.

He said without fast-action to reduce current and projected future levels of air pollution, there would be dangerous air pollution, which was projected to increase human death to approximately 4,600 by 2030.

Mr Obed Wunanu, an Automobile Sprayer Apprentice, told the GNA that “we do not wear nose mask and goggles when spraying.”

“The particles go into our eyes, so we frequently experience catarrh, red eyes, cough, fever, running nose and body pains…Sometimes after spraying, I am unable to sleep. We only visit the drug store and buy painkillers,” he said, adding that: “This is the situation I met when I started this apprenticeship five months ago. My master too does not wear mask or goggles.”

Dr Efua Commeh, the Acting Programme Manager for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) at the Ghana Health Service, said there had been a growing trend in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease conditions associated with difficulty in breathing such as asthma.

She said the continued inhalation of polluted air had a long-term-effect such as, death, heart disease, lung cancer, damage of nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.

The trend, she explained, indicated a sign of poor air quality as a result of environmental pollution.

“More children in schools are contracting asthma. Adults who had asthma in their younger ages with the condition getting better as adults, now seem to be having a resurgence,” she noted.

“As we yearn for industrialisation, more vehicle emissions will go up but there is the need to ensure that the systems are working to keep people healthy.”

She called for regular engagements with the public and light industrial workers for the safety of all.

Source: GNA

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