Mr Kojo Ayittey, a Scientist at the University of Ghana says the top two air pollution sources in Accra and Kumasi are emissions from energy-burning facilities and biomass.
Emissions from energy-burning facilities include soot from poorly maintained and old vehicles, generators, and motorcycles, while open burning of waste items, charcoal, and firewood used as cooking fuel at the home and commercial levels produces biomass emissions.
Mr Ayittey told the Ghana News Agency that dust from unpaved roads, building sites, and fields constituted the third source of air pollution in the two cities.
He stated that these sources of pollution produced Particulate Matter (PM), which is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets of varied sizes and forms.
People inhale these Particulate Matter unknowingly, posing major health risks, including the triggering of asthmatic diseases.
Mr Ayittey explained that PMs had been classified into sizes and that PM 10 was inhalable particles with diameters of 10 micrometres or less.
“These particles can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream,” he said.
PM 2.5 was found to be the second category of particles, with diameters of 2.5 micrometres, which are even thinner than a strand of human hair and could cause the most harm to one’s health.
According to Mr Ayittey, Environmental Protection Agency research found that air pollution kills 28,000 Ghanaians prematurely each year.
A recent World Bank Report put the yearly cost of air pollution in Accra and Kumasi at about US$264 million.
The report said about two per cent of the country’s gross domestic product was spent on resolving air pollution issues.
Furthermore, according to Ghana Health Service (GHS) figures for the first half of 2023, asthma, a condition mostly induced by poor air quality, is the second most common noncommunicable disease (NCD) recorded.
Dr Efua Commeh, GHS’s Acting Programme Manager for Noncommunicable Diseases, stated that the data indicated that more people were becoming unwell with chronic obstructive lung diseases such as asthma.
She said that the health burden of air pollution was wreaking havoc on the working class, particularly breadwinners.
Dr Commeh noted it was not only a loss at the personal level, but the economy because “the more people get sick, the more the economy suffers in terms of productivity.”
“Many more people in Accra are at high risk of developing these diseases due to the
shrinking green spaces. There is enough evidence of an increasing rate of respiratory
disease. The rise is steep especially from 2010 through to today, 2023,” she said.
Mr Emmanuel Appoh, the Managing Consultant for EnviroFin Consultant, asked the public to be vigilant and report anyone engaged in open burning to the police because it was unlawful.
“Do not sit idle because smoke knows no bounds. Its impact can be diseases such as heart disease and lung cancer. Fighting air pollution is everyone’s civic responsibility,” he said.
Mr Appoh, a former Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, urged companies and prospective car buyers to choose a fuel-efficient model with lower emissions.
He urged commercial vehicle owners, particularly those who use diesel cars, to practice eco-driving by installing particulate filters.
Mr Appoh stated that drivers should adopt practices such as avoiding overspeeding, switching off car engines while on longer stops, closing windows when driving at faster speeds, and frequently servicing vehicles to keep them “eco-fit.”
He urged homeowners and commercial caterers to purchase clean cookstoves to save lives and money for the country.
“…this story was a collaboration with New Narratives. Funding was provided by the Clean Air Fund. The funder no say in the content of the story…”