The Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, yesterday warned of the entry of dust from the Sahara desert into the country and entreated persons with underlying health conditions to reduce outdoor activities especially during this month.
He mentioned the elderly, children, pregnant women, asthmatics and related allergies and any other persons with underlying health conditions as those at high risk.
According to him, Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMET) satellite images showed a lot of dust raised in the dust source region which was being transported into the country.
“Ghana is still within the harmattan season and according to the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMET) satellite images, a lot of dust raised in the dust source region (Sahara regions), and this dust is being transported by low level strong winds into the country hence the very dry and dusty weather being experienced over the northern, transition zones and part of the south,” he said.
Mr Kokofu made this known at a press conference held in Accra yesterday, to sensitise the public on the issue and the precautionary measures needed for protection until the harmattan season was over.
He said it was a natural phenomenon that occurred in the harmattan seasons and according to EPA records, took place between 17th and 19th February, during which time there was high dusty weather in the country.
“The air quality index recorded at the EPA’s Monitoring Site located at the University of Ghana between February 1 to19, 2023, was largely moderate except for February 15 and 16 when it increased to unhealthy levels for sensitive groups and then unhealthy to very unhealthy between February 17-19,” he noted.
He said high particulate levels may cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat and vulnerable groups such as people with asthma, lung disease, older adults, children and pregnant women are considered at greater risk.
He urged the general public to reduce outdoor activities including physical exercise or they put on nose mask and goggles for eye protection anytime they were stepping out.
Mr Kokofu advised the public to desist from open burning of solid waste, smoking in public and the use of firewood in cooking to reduce air pollution and its related death in the country.
He stated that they should plant more trees in their environments since it was the only source of natural oxygen instead of cutting them down.
“The public is hereby informed that the Agency will continue to collaborate with relevant institutions and stakeholders to monitor the situation for updates on our website and social media handles,” he noted.
The Deputy Director, Institutional Care Division (Quality Assurance) – Ghana Health Service, Mary Eyram Ashinyo, said over the weekend, the air quality had reduced in the country which indicated that the health of Ghanaians was at risk.
BY CECILIA LAGBA