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Air Pollution Threatens Accra   
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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.
Source: Daily Guide

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