- Published on Saturday, 22 September 2012 16:30
- Written by Priscilla J. Quiah
“Don’t rule out that people of that community will suffer from cancer in the future with their continuous exposure to such heavily polluted environment due to the chemical in the air they breathe daily”, said Mr. Jusu Watson, Proprietor of the Whein Town Community Clinic. Mr. Watson stated that most of the health cases he treats residents of Whein town for are allergic dermentitis, (skin disease, rashes), which he pointed out is the result of exposure to harmful water chemicals. Wells in the Whein Town Community and its surroundings are contaminated due to the dumpsites created in the area by the Monrovia City Corporation in partnership with the World Bank. “Normally, water does not have color; but the wells in this place has green color water,” Mr. Watson said.
He named diarrhea and malaria as some of the cases he usually treats at his clinic. The health practitioner also disclosed that pollution of the air by the toxic odor from the filths at the dumpsites causes headache for the residents. Importantly, Jusu Watson also is the clinical supervisor for the Montserrado Health Team at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The Chairman of the Dumpsite Situation Committee in the Community, Mr. Terrance Sackie, disclosed that two persons have already died from cholera as a result of drinking water that had become contaminated by the dumpsite. Sackie complained that the huge pile of wastes dumped in the community by the Monrovia City Corporation has created serious health hazard for community dwellers.
Mr. Sackie was emphatic when he noted that disposing toxic wastes in the middle of the Community has caused such stench which often causes the more than two thousand people in the community to keep indoors. He cites the continuous outbreak of diarrhea and malaria as well as the influx of flies and other crawling insects as causes for the death of several persons, including women and children.
The Whein Town Dumpsite Situation Committee Chairman further noted the lack of safe drinking water and other basic necessities of life as important needs for the well-being of the people in the community, adding “dumping dirts in the area continuously violates the right of the residents to clean environment and healthy living”.
He expresses fear that more lives could be wasted if nothing is done to remedy the garbage disposal situation in the Whein Town Community.
Meanwhile, Bloc “D” Community Chairman in Whein Town, T. Ebenezer Wah has called for the construction of more hand pumps for easy access to safe drinking water. Mr. Wah says wells used for drinking water have been contaminated by the dumpsite.
The residents contend that the decision to position a dumpsite in their community is a violation of their right to safe and healthy environment and life; and therefore call on authorities to reconsider using Whein Town for dumpsite.
The situation of dumping toxic wastes and filths in residential community is dangerous, according to research by this writer. A World Bank sponsored study on air pollution in Pakistan states that over 22,000 people are losing their lives to air particulate pollution every year.
The study shows that particulate matter, both PM10 and PM2.5, is responsible for 22,000 premature deaths among adults and 700 deaths among children every year.
According to the US Environment Protection Agency, “particulate matter” (PM), also known as particle pollution, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. It is made up of a number of components, including acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.
Besides, the English Pravda of Russia reported on 27 February, 2012 that the level of air pollution in Russian cities was described as a chemical genocide. The Reports say a Russian Biologist indicated that chemical pollution not only lead to cancer but also causes mutation.
Boris Revich, a Doctor of Medical Sciences, said that bad ecology adds ten percent to population mortality rate. This percentage makes 40,000 people a year, which can be compared to the population of a whole town.
Again another report by The Get Real Philippines Magazine on 30 December 2002 quotes the World Bank and the Stockholm Development Institute (SDI) as disclosing that the Pollution in Asia is steadily worsening and is directly responsible for the death of thousands in Beijing, Jakarta, Seoul, Bangkok and Manila.
According to the report, SDI says that sulphur dioxide, ammonia and nitrogen oxides have been rising steadily over the past few decades and ground level ozone concentration has increased. “Air pollution in the continent has now surpassed the combined emissions in Europe and North America”, the report says.
The Bank's 2000 Annual Review, says in Manila alone more than 4,000 Filipinos die each year because of air pollution. The mortality figure is the third highest for a city in the east Asian region after Beijing and Jakarta. Bangkok and Seoul were ranked 4th and 5th.
Beside the deaths, 90,000 Filipinos in Manila also suffer from severe chronic bronchitis, costing the government 7 percent of its gross domestic product in terms of health costs, the Bank said, citing statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) which did pollution and health studies in 126 countries last year.
However, the air pollution death figures in other parts of the world are even higher, says the Bank, noting that yearly, over 40,000 die in India, 6,400 in Mexico City, over 5,000 deaths in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Study has shown that the damage to human health caused not only by air emissions but also solid waste and effluent, is the highest among all the costs of urban environmental degradation. As cities in developing countries are indeed becoming unhealthy places to live in, people have to contend not only with dangerous air fumes but also solid waste and effluent pollution. These are direct factors behind water-related diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera and typhoid.
Notwithstanding these reports by the World Bank in other countries, that international institution has financed the use of the Whein Town Community for the dumping of toxic filths and wastes which have polluted both water sources and the air to the disadvantage and against the health of residents.
However, environmentalists have said that the problems related to the pollution of atmosphere, water and soil need to be solved at the top level. Otherwise, people would have to move out in the woods to save their lives.
Recently the local media reported that the Ministry of Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, which aims at strengthening the implementation of International Conventions on banned substances and hazardous chemicals.
When contacted about the Whein Town dumpsite situation, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Madam Vohiri disclosed that the EPA had received a communication about the Whein town situation, but added that she could not make political statements. What the meaning of The EPA bosses’ response suggests is any one guess.
But Article 24 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights states that all peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their development.