By Admin | 811 words | Reading time: 3 min
Local livelihood strategies and poor awareness of air pollution and its adverse health effects in Accra, Ghana, could be contributing to the increasing rate of premature deaths attributable to poor air quality in the capital city.
Accra Royal Junior High School, Jamestown, Accra, Ghana/ 13 November 2018
AirMask & Textiles Company, on 13 November 2018, donated1 anti-pollution face masks to students of Accra Royal Junior High School and members of Jamestown slaughterhouse, both in Jamestown, a district near Ghana’s independence square in the capital Accra. The donation was part of an awareness campaign by the company to increase local knowledge of air pollution and its adverse health effects.
Accra Royal Junior High School, Jamestown, Accra/ 13 November 2018
Accra Royal Junior High School is close to several sources of hazardous air pollutants, including smoke from a waste-dumping site near Korle Bu mortuary, inside the premises of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Ghana’s premier healthcare facility. Other sources include toxic smoke from electronic waste burning from Agbogbloshie landfill and the surrounding areas.
In charging the students to become active participants in the company’s awareness campaign to improve air quality in Accra, the form 1, 2 & 3 students who live in the surrounding areas posed series of questions to journalists from Ghana News Agency (GNA) who were there to cover the event.
“If the government is aware of the air pollution situation around Jamestown and Old Fadama, why haven’t they done anything about it?” asked Ezekiel Seidu, a form 2 student and a resident of Old Fadama, a community near the notorious Agbogbloshie electronic waste landfill.
The journalists obviously could not answer this one.
A form 1 student, Emmalina Yartey, who resides in Jamestown, wondered, “Say I see someone openly burning rubbish, and I tell this person to stop because their action is a health hazard, and this person abuse me, could I report this to the police?” We all agreed that yes, this could be a case for the police to intervene, as she may be merely demanding this person to stop violating Ghana’s environmental regulations.
We visited Jamestown slaughterhouse, where they use scrap tires to singe livestock, after our engagement with students from Accra Royal Junior High School.
Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant/atcmask.com/3 October 2018
Some members of this slaughterhouse felt our campaign was a threat to their livelihood, and actually attempted to assault us. We still engaged some of the members, and donated anti-pollution face masks to them.
Our Temtop handheld air quality monitor consistently registered 999.9 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) of PM2.5 in this area, obviously beyond the detection capability of this device.
The 999.9μg/m3 of PM2.5 we consistently registered in this area was far above the Air Quality Index (AQI) maximum value of 500. AQI values between 301 - 500 are considered hazardous by the US EPA.
Jamestown, Accra, Ghana/ 13 November 2018
Members of this slaughterhouse explained during our engagement that they use scrap tires to singe livestock because this method is much cheaper. One particular member who regularly uses scrap tires for roasting, added, “our ancestors had emitted smoke this way since the time of Mansa Musa (referring to the 14th century ‘sultan’ of the West African Mali Empire), and that if the smoke they emit currently in the area were so toxic to themselves and the settlements nearby as our team seem to suggest, they’d never be alive right now to engage us”. We attempted our best to disabuse this local perception of the adverse health effects of air pollution the best we could.
We hope to continue to engage communities like Jamestown to minimize their exposure to air pollution.
Please leave your comments below, and let us know what you think!
1. http://www.ghananewsagency.org/health/airmask-company-contributes-to-minimising-polluted-air-inhalation-by-children-141640 (Retrieved November, 2018) ↩