Factory fall-out is foul

2015-10-08 10:17

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The lungs of only 31,6% of the children at a school near a refinery were found to be completely clear of the effects of their polluted environment.

On Wednesday, Pietermaritzburg’s conservation organisation, groundWork, held a workshop at the the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) Conference in Durban on the health affects of air pollution and how damaging it is to the population’s health.

UKZN head of occupational and environmental health Professor Rajen Naidoo said the university recently conducted a study at a Durban school to test the severity of the effects of air pollution.

Naidoo said the Durban South, Settlers Primary School was studied as the school is situated between two major refineries.

“You can actually see the stacks of both the refineries from the school grounds,” he said.

Naidoo said what the studies revealed was concerning in regards to the health of the children at the school.

With 15% of the children having some sort of asthma and 25% of the schools children diagnosed with persistent asthma, the university also tested lung function abnormality among the children.

The studies revealed that 20,9% of the children had “marked” lungs, 28,9% had “probable marked” lungs, 16,7% had “possible marked” lungs and 31,6% of the children were clear.

Although the results cannot directly be proven to be linked to the refineries, it brings into question how our surroundings affect our health.

A documentary produced by groundWork in 2014 on the health effects experienced by those living near an Eskom plant on the Highveld is available on the organisation’s website. It shows the health issues experienced by the people living around the plant such as respiratory illness and cardio vascular diseases.

According to Chicago University of Illinois chief of occupational and environmental medicine Professor Peter Orris, studies are beginning to show that air pollution from coal mines, factories and a build-up in pollution from transport affects reproduction in humans.

He said the U.S. has seen an increase in infant mortality and a decrease in birth weight.

He said the consequences of air ­pollution could also cause a drop in IQ levels among new generations with special needs children outweighing the number of intellectually gifted ­children

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  pollution

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