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SRADeV urges NESREA, EPAs to monitor air quality impact on health

SRADeV Nigeria has called on the National Environmental Standards Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and State Environmental Protection Agencies (EPAs) to urgently undertake national monitoring of air quality and its impacts on human health.

Air pollution
Air pollution from vehicles

The Lagos-based not-for-profit outfit made the submission in a statement made available to EnviroNews on Sunday, June 9, 2019 in the spirit of the World Environment Day observed on Wednesday, June 5.

The theme of the 2019 World Environment Day is: “Air pollution”.

Dr Leslie Adogame, Executive Director, SRADeV Nigeria, stressed that NESREA and the EPAs should additionally assess sources of air pollution, establish and enforce air quality legislation and develop air quality actions plans to safeguard people health towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“In other to monitor this as watchdogs of the environment, SRADeV plans to inaugurate an ‘NGO Think Tank Roundtable on Environment’ to serve a pressure group by July 2019 in Lagos,” he said.

Dr. Adogame added: “As we mark the World Environment Day, Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADeV Nigeria), a SAICM United Nations NGOs focal point of chemicals pollution and management in Nigeria,  urge the incoming federal and state governments and the legislatures to take bold action to beat air pollution, improve health, address climate change, and fulfil citizen’s human rights obligations.

“Since pollution and poverty go hand in hand, Nigeria been described as the ‘poverty capital of the world’. The implication is that more people will likely die from air pollution-related diseases in the coming years if urgent public emergency action plans are not put in place.”

The group added that, in the quest for attracting foreign investment for local growth and employment opportunities, Nigeria in the past 20 years has slide to becoming a dumping ground for all kinds of unregulated ‘unsound’ industrial practices and activities.

“Our recent survey carried out between September 2018 and February 2019, at the new Lagos-Ogun State industrial corridor in Ikorodu and Ogijo communities revealed that about 90% of industries operating in those locations (mostly owned by Chinese and Indians) are operating below the required environmentally accepted standard. These companies openly release toxic substances into the atmosphere and ecosystem, in the name of recycling, while government regulatory agencies look the other way.

SRADeV disclosed that its finding substantiates that, “instead of ‘green recycling’, incessant ‘brown recycling’ activities takes place all over, we are stunned by how these complacent industries impact on the nation’s already huge uncalculated environmental and occupational costs. This unwrapping of the recycling industries’ ‘dirty little secret’ was met with shock and dismay.”

“Our survey also revealed that babies, school children, women in these poorer communities are those most exposed to the recalcitrant pollutants. From our survey, the country is presented with a nightmarish vision of where another lifestyle of ‘toxic colonialism’ and unregulated industry can lead us,” said Mr. Victor Fabunmi, the SRADeV Senior Programme Officer.

Adogame said: “The theme of the 2019 WED is apt for Nigeria, as it is an agenda setting for the attention of the incoming federal and states government.

“Air pollution is a deadly, man-made problem, responsible for the early deaths of some seven million people every year, around 600,000 of whom are children. It is estimated that 90 per cent of the world’s population breathe polluted air.  Every five seconds, somebody around the world dies prematurely as a result.  In Nigeria, the situation is alarming and remotely the major cause of untimely deaths today and as civil societies we are deeply concern about the continued lip-service attention of the government.

“Today in Nigeria, polluted air is creating a national public health emergency especially in all urban centres. It threatens everyone from unborn babies to children walking to school, to women selling their wares in the open, to industrial workers, and even unsuspecting residential/commercial dwellers to every office worker.

“On the street and inside the house, the sources of air pollution are noticeably seen and evidently alarming with deadly effects: asthma, other respiratory illnesses and heart diseases etc overstretching the nation’s present inadequate health infrastructure. As if that is not enough, exposure to dirty air also harms brain development, leading to cognitive and motor impairments, while at the same time putting children at greater risk for chronic disease later in life.”

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