Open burning contributes to air pollution in Ghana
Open burning contributes to air pollution in Ghana

We must deal with air pollution

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sounded the alarm over the worsening air quality in the country.


The Executive Director of the EPA, Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, stated that the agency's Air Quality Index station at the University of Ghana had recorded dust particles ranging from moderate, unhealthy to very unhealthy air from February 16, 2023, with the situation getting into hazardous levels on February 18 and 19.

The EPA added that the high particulate levels, which were above the World Health Organisation and national limit, could cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.The Ghana Meteorological Agency (Gmet) had earlier observed dust movement on its satellite from the Sahel region, including Niger and Chad, heading to Ghana.

Members of the public have, therefore, been advised to start wearing nose masks and also restrict their patronage of outdoor activities and remain indoors as much as possible to avoid frequent attacks.

Although the harmattan season (between November and March) is often associated with dusty weather conditions, the EPA boss warned that what was happening in the country was extraordinary. He stressed that the situation was not entirely a natural phenomenon as human activities also contributed to it.The Ghana Health Service (GHS) also warned that individuals who exposed themselves to particles emitted into the atmosphere risked contracting respiratory-related diseases.

Adding her voice to the matter, a Deputy Director, Institutional Care Division at the GHS, Dr Mary Enyram Ashinyo, said persons who were already suffering from breathing difficulties and other respiratory diseases could compound their conditions if they ignored precautionary measures during this period.

Just like the EPA, Gmet and the GHS, the Daily Graphic is worried about the bad air quality in the country, especially in commercial cities. 

The paper has observed with grave concern certain unguarded human activities that contribute to air pollution. For instance, on a daily basis, some parts of Accra are engulfed with thick, dark smoke as dealers in scrap metal burn electronic waste to extract useful matter. In the process, they discharge toxic gases into the atmosphere. 

There is also the big issue of vehicular emissions that has become a canker in many cities.  As rickety and overage vehicles plying our roads emit volumes of poisonous gases into the atmosphere, they pose serious health threats to the public and injure the environment. 

It is also common to see some food vendors cooking in open spaces using firewood and charcoal. 

The Daily Graphic believes that there is the need for concerted effort to tackle the menace of air pollution in the country.  Related state agencies must work together to enforce standards and regulations that will help to reduce air pollution. 

While the EPA has the ultimate mandate to ensure that the environment is protected, it is important for the other related state agencies to brighten their little corners to help address air pollution. 

In that regard, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority needs to take steps to deal with the menace of rickety vehicles on the road to reduce vehicular emissions. 

There is the need for emission testing to be incorporated into the vehicle testing regime to address this challenge. 

The metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies must also implement bye-laws and regulations that would help to stop open space burning of waste. 

In the wake of the global climate crisis, we cannot continue the business-as-usual attitude towards the environment. We have a collective responsibility to help address air pollution. After all, the consequences of air pollution spare no one.

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