The obsession with skin colour exhibited by government, activists and “cyber family” who submit articles, is obscuring more important matters, such as pollution. In fact, the effects of pollution are already manifest, some not yet and some will only do so later. If we love ourselves and our children, we need to start questioning the right of a dysfunctional government to impose a real health hazard on its citizens.
A recent mynews24 article wanted us to believe that the average IQ of a South African (105) is higher than the USA, UK, Norway or Australia. The 3 top Google sites visited indicated South Africa as 72 or not listed, but data certainly shows a rating lower than 97. This leads one to ponder the impact of environmental cleanliness on the mental acuity of a country’s citizens.
This morning I read a news24 article about the high levels of manganese which have been detected in water in areas in Pretoria. Spokesperson Nomasonto Ndlovu said: “Manganese and iron at high concentration affects the aesthetic appearance of the water and does not pose a health risk”.
Wasserman and Bouchard wish to differ and indicated that a high concentration of manganese in tap water was significantly associated with lower IQ. It should be noted that arsenic was also present, albeit in lower concentrations.
The following 5 paragraphs as per my friend:
Heavy or toxic metals are trace metals with a density at least five times that of water. They are bio-accumulative (passed up the food chain to humans). These include: mercury, nickel, lead, arsenic, cadmium, aluminium, platinum, and copper (the metallic form versus the ionic form required by the body). Heavy metals have no function in the body and can be highly toxic.
The term heavy metal refers to any metallic chemical element that has a relatively high density and is toxic or poisonous at low concentrations. Chronic exposure to these metals can have serious health consequences. Humans are exposed to heavy metals through inhalation of air pollutants, consumption of contaminated drinking water, exposure to contaminated soils or industrial waste, or consumption of contaminated food. Food sources such as vegetables, grains, fruits, fish and shellfish can become contaminated by accumulating metals from surrounding soil and water. Heavy metal exposure causes serious health effects, including reduced growth and development, cancer, organ damage, nervous system damage, and in extreme cases, death. Exposure to some metals, such as mercury and lead, may also cause development of autoimmunity, in which a person's immune system attacks its own cells. This can lead to joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and diseases of the kidneys, circulatory system and nervous system.
Metals are particularly toxic to the sensitive, rapidly developing systems of foetuses, infants and young children. Some metals, such as lead and mercury, easily cross the placenta and damage the foetal brain. Childhood exposure to some metals can result in learning difficulties, memory impairment, damage to the nervous system, and behavioural problems such as aggressiveness and hyperactivity. At higher doses, heavy metals can cause irreversible brain damage. Children may receive higher doses of metals from food than adults, since they consume more food for their body weight than adults.
Mine water impacts negatively on the water environment by increasing the levels of suspended solids, leading to mobilization of elements such as iron, aluminium, cadmium, cobalt, manganese and zinc and also decreasing pH of the receiving water.
Industrial activity results in releases of millions of pounds of mercury into the environment each year, primarily in the form of air emissions from coal-fired power plants. Mercury also is released into the environment by municipal and medical waste incineration, mining and smelting.
There are obviously much more data available for the more inquisitive.
None of the articles touched on the effects of burning tyres (for heat or cooking), or burning stolen wire and batteries to retrieve copper and lead. The impact of constant intake of E. Coli from polluted streams and the multiplicative effects that lead combined with fluoride have on children, I have not touched upon.
The constant (over and under) use of pesticides and polluted irrigation water on our fruit, veggie and grain crops, are ghosts lurking in the wings of the South African unfunny Water Comedy. Nor are the mining water licenses or the Blesbokspruit and Wonderfonteinspruit pollution outrages detailed here. The lack by any authority to test and impose fines, (and more), on polluting vehicles is another day’s story.
There are 86% less engineers in municipalities today, compared to 18 years ago. Only 97 of the 250 civil engineering posts at the Department of Water Affairs are filled. Since 2008, R 4.2 billion has been spent on consultants.
Should we still argue about exactly what colour someone is when we are all using the same water? The same water that pollute our bodies and make our children sick? We are all exposed to pollution. Should we thus not be asking what political, socio-economic and global competitive disadvantages we are creating for ourselves?
Just because the effects of the above are not as dramatic as Marikana, De Doorns or Zamdela, they might not attract as much attention, nor provide as much material for political posturing or opportunities to be in the lime light. It might not be as comment provoking as Christians vs. Atheists.
But they are as important. And far more deadly........
Rapport –Sunday, 27 January 2013.
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