Social entrepreneur calls for national discussion on air pollution

Friday 11th January, 2019
Mr. Muntaka Chasant NEW

By Agnes Boye-Doe, GNA

Accra, Jan. 11, GNA - Mr Muntaka Chasant, a social entrepreneur, has called for urgent national discussion on air pollution in Ghana to help minimise the health risks associated with poor air quality.

He said air pollution remained a critical risk factor for premature deaths in the country and that a national discussion could bring stakeholders together to address the increasing disease rates attributable to poor air quality.

Mr Chasant told the Ghana News Agency on Friday that he had previously called on the Government to consider air pollution a public health issue.

He explained that the lack of sufficient air quality monitoring networks, awareness on causes and effects of air pollution and other factors could be contributing to the rising death rates from diseases linked to poor air quality.

To help reduce non-communicable diseases in Ghana, the AirMask and Textiles Company Limited (ATCL), an anti-pollution face mask company, has embarked on air pollution awareness campaigns in parts of Accra to increase local knowledge on the menace and its adverse health effects.

Mr Chasant, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ATCL, justified his call for a national discourse on air pollution by citing a World Health Organisation study, which shows that more than 28,000 annual deaths in Ghana are attributable to air pollution mainly through non-communicable diseases like stroke and cardiovascular infections.

“Toxic fumes from old and rickety cars, open burning of residential trash, bushfires and road dust are doing a great deal of damage to the health of Ghanaians in urban and rural areas,” he said.

“At Agbogbloshie and Jamestown for example, where education and awareness on air pollution are low, animal slaughterers use scrap tyres to singe livestock for food, while e-waste workers at the Agbogbloshie e-waste dumpsite regularly burn insulated copper wires, auto harness wires and radial tyres for copper, steel and other valuable metals.”

“These activities release highly toxic chemicals including dioxins and furans from morning till night into Accra’s air. This exposes the city’s population to serious health risks.”

Mr Chasant also expressed concerns on air pollution studies, which focus mostly on urban areas, while air quality in rural areas in Ghana could be getting worse due to bushfires, dust from unpaved roads, wood burning and other business activities.

He called on other organisations to join in the effort to help tackle air pollution and its associated health risks in Ghana and urged chiefs and traditional rulers to address human activities that pollute the air in rural areas.