Air Pollution Threatens Accra

Appah-Sampong addressing the media at the programme

The
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called for urgent measures to improve
air quality in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) as the death toll on
air pollution is likely to reach 4,600 deaths by 2030 if no actions are taken
to reduce the current and projected future levels of air pollution.

The death
estimation was based on a study carried out by the agency in 2015 which showed
that about 2,800 lives in GAMA were lost in that particular year due to the
effect of air pollution mainly caused by exposure to higher levels of
particulate matter.

The transport
sector has also been identified as large contributor to urban air pollutants
that impacted health.

The
Deputy Executive Director of EPA, Ebenezer Appah-Sampong, gave the information
when he addressed some journalists at a press briefing on Climate Change Action
Plan after a two-day workshop on Urban Health Initiative (UHI).

He
indicated that the situation of air pollution was alarming due to the growing
rural-urban migration which has increased the population in GAMA leading to
pressure on existing infrastructure that managed air pollution.

 “The health hazards of air pollution vary
often based on how long and how much a person is exposed. These range from
Acute Respiratory Infections to long term effects like emphysema, lung cancer,
cataract chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases, low birth weight,
cardiovascular and circulatory diseases,” he said.

In
curtailing the situation, Appah-Sampong proposed some initiatives which
included the elimination of lead from gasoline, introduction of over-aged
vehicle tax law, enforcement of cleaner bus standards and conducting of a
regular National Green House Gas Inventory.

The Chief
Sustainability and Resilience Advisor to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly,
Desmond Appiah, presented a summary of recommendations after the workshop.

These
included the need for clear identification of roles and responsibility of
stakeholders, developing an open source data to inform decisions, providing
budget to tackle climate change and depoliticising issues of air quality and
climate change.

Other
recommendation made were formulating actions to discourage the use of
motorcycle, investment in mass transit, creating of policies and by-laws on
waste separation and recycling as well as making children pivotal to the
climate change.

“We
must adopt clear and simple messages through media accustomed to the local
people,” he said.

The
World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative for Ghana, Dr Owen
Kaluwa, for his part, said that UHI would continue to explore and implement
innovative local initiatives that would improve air quality in Accra and Ghana
as a whole.

“Internationally agreed climate targets may not be achievable without additional activities to mitigate Short-Lived Climate Pollutants,” Dr Kaluwa warned.

By Issah Mohammed



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