Declining Air Quality: Time To Act
At a time when many countries especially the highly industrialized ones have become unusually conscious about the environment we live in, those in our part of the world are less concerned.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged Ghana to be mindful of its declining Air Quality (AQ) level – a call borne out of a consistent observation about the subject over a considerable period. This calls for immediate intervention by both policymakers and the people.
The launch of a Health and Pollution Action Plan for the country is auspicious and calls for the support of all to register maximum dividends.
The AQ level and others pertaining to the environment might sound academic and abstract and therefore not attracting the desired support to make it work. Many of our compatriots still bask in the ignorance that they are shielded from the effects of poor AQ; they cannot be convinced about negative effects about poor AQ and so would inhale overnight the dangerous fumes of mosquito repellents.
The comeuppance for not doing anything now about our relationship with the environment – the poor AQ level being one – can be dire.
Let us take some interest in what obtains in countries which did not act to reverse their declining AQ level until their recklessness exacted the deadly toll they are battling with today.
The world's most populous cities are sometimes enveloped in unwholesome smog, a reality which has informed residents masking their noses to maintain their health. The effect of a declining air quality level on the respiratory system is not a thing to ignore.
Although we are far from being enveloped by smog, the experts say our AQ level is poor and needs reversing.
Fossil fuel – wood burning to produce charcoal and other human activities – will be part of our country in a long time to come. We can though minimize some of these activities as in the case of charcoal production by replacing same with the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
Whereas those responsible for ensuring air quality are snoring on their assignments, persons responsible for air pollution do not even know the effect of their unhealthy action.
The journey to improve our AQ level must start now from our schools, lorry stations and even houses through a well planned awareness and education programme.
At a time when we have not started a concerted effort to stem plastic pollution, we would be in serious trouble if we are saddled with an added challenge of declining AQ in the country.
Managing respiratory related diseases occasioned by the invasion of pollutants of our urban settings is not an easy task – the cost involved enormous.
It is exciting to learn about a roadmap being unfolded towards managing of our AQ level whose reading as of 2016 exceeded the WHO acceptable standard eight fold.
The recent engagement on AQ in Accra needs more amplification given the rather high deaths resulting from poor AQ levels. It has been detected that the inhalation of poor quality air is responsible for some of these deaths, with the figure of 2012 standing at 28,000.
It was instructive to learn that even mosquito repelling coils when mismanaged can lead to the pollution of the air we inhale.