Rapid population growth, emission rapidly degrading air quality-EPA

Madam Selina Amoah, Acting Director, Environmental Quality Unit, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), says rapid population growth, urbanisation, and emissions from industrial and human activities are rapidly degrading air quality, particularly in urban areas. She said these contributed to climate change and its implications for public health and socio-economic development. Madam Amoah said major contributors to air pollution from human activities in Ghana included transport, industry and human settlement, including open burning of electronic or solid waste, use of wood fuels in cooking, among others. The Acting Director said this during the maiden launch of Air Quality Awareness Week, on the theme, 'Knowing Your Air,' in Accra. As part of the activities lined up for the maiden launch of the Air Quality Awareness Week is the school engagement on Asthma and air pollution, webinar discussion on air pollution and climate change, roundtable discussion on air quality and risk communication. Madam Amoah note d that, access to clean air was human right, an essential resource for human well-being and a vital for the survival of the entire ecosystem. 'Available information indicates that if we are denied air for a few minutes, we will not be able to survive. That is why it is important for all of us in our small way reduce air pollution' she added. She said air pollution was as a major contributor to public health and linked to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, birth defects, damage to the human nervous system, cancer, and premature death. 'According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2019, 99 per cent of the world's population lived in areas where WHO air quality guidelines were not met, the combined effects of ambient air and household air pollution result in 6.7 million premature deaths annually,' she said. The Acting Director stated that air pollution related health issues in the country accounted for about 28,000 deaths per year, and that the number was projected to increase if no action was t aken to tackle the issues. Mr Desmond Appiah, Country Lead, Clean Air Fund, said there was a gap in data collection and pollution levels, noting that it was the only avenue to know the status quo of the quality of the air to inform decision. 'So, if you have a hotspot and you are able to also get the health data around where the hotspots are, it gives you a good picture of what it is,' he added. Mr Appiah said respiratory diseases were increasing in some areas because of air pollution, indicating that back in 2000, Ghana of the top 10 mortality diseases, respiratory diseases ranked fifth and the last report in 2019 indicated that it ranked second, calling for more actions. 'We need to understand that it is a challenge that if we do not tackle, will become more prominent and will cause us a lot more in the future,' the Country Lead added. Source: Ghana News Agency