Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), last Thursday launched the Health and Pollution Action Plan (HPAP) with a call on Ghanaians to avoid wrapping their hot meals in plastic materials.
He said the soft plastics were endocrine disruptors and also promoted cancers in humans.
The HPAP is an initiative of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), which is being implemented in five countries, including Ghana.
The other countries are Columbia, Kyrgyz Republic, Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The main goal of the project is to assist governments to identify, evaluate and prioritise existing pollution challenges and policies based on health impacts, establish pollution as a priority action by national agencies and within development plans and as well define and enhance concrete interventions to reduce pollution exposures and related illness.
“Plastics for wrapping and serving of hot soups in them, that is the soft ones, has certain Chemicals that make the plastics soft and it is an endocrine disruptor, and these are things that promote cancers in humans,” the Minister noted.
He said though wrapping foods in the plastics was sometimes convenient, it is not good for humans, thus, they should avoid it if they can.
Professor Frimpong Boateng said plastic, apart from causing pollution could also be dangerous to the health of the populace and should be handled with caution.
Speaking about other pollutions that had bedevilled Ghana, the Minister mentioned water, air, sound and light as a nuisance that should be dealt with, with the launch of the Plan.
He explained that the government for the past two years had been fighting illegal mining, which had polluted the water bodies through the use of Chemicals such as Mercury.
Excavators used also have fuels that go into the water bodies, lead poisoning, among others due to batteries used in the process, he added.
“When the water was polluted, people would not drink but the bush animals, they eat drink it and eat the polluted vegetation, posing health hazards when the animals were consumed.”
Other bad practices of fish farmers also pollute the water bodies, such as the introduction of a wrong type of Tilapia into the Volta Lake and the introduction of Genetically Improved Farm Tilapia (GIFT).
“When we pollute the environment, we do not only directly pollute ourselves but the things that depend upon us for survival, the plants and the animals,” Professor Frimpong-Boateng emphasized.
He said apart from the cost involved in processing the polluted water, the chemicals were also a problem, adding that, Ghanaians were causing a lot of harm to themselves as a result of the pollution.
“Polluting the air, would also affect us, but the good news is that we now have partners, NGOs, that are creating the awareness in the country and there is a heightened awareness of environmental pollution in Ghana,” he said.
Talking about sound pollution, the Minister said, it was not good for a lot of people, especially, the Hypertensive, saying that, excessive noise also caused deafness.
Light Pollution might not be considered by most people in Ghana but those who had gardens and exposed their plants to too much light risk having the crops not producing, he noted.
He urged all, especially, MESTI’s partners, including Pure Earth, CSIR, Water Research, UNIDO, Soil Research, WHO and EPA to help disseminate the document.
The 18 project proposal, in the Health and Pollution Action Plan (HPAP), from the five countries, is estimated to cost 142.56 million Euros.
Mr Fakhruddin Azizi, a United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Representative in Ghana and Liberia, said UNIDO began implementing a global project, which had already picked up concerns about the impacts of soil contamination, in particular, six years ago through European Union (EU) funding.
He said the project’s aims to identify sites in the low and middle- income countries, which were heavily contaminated by heavy metals and other chemicals.
Mr Azizi said a strategy and systematic approach towards addressing pollution was inspired by a number of targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Target 9 of the goal, towards sustainably reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination by 2030.
He said pollution sources cycle such as Ambient or air pollution, Indoor air pollution, Water contamination, Soil contamination and Exposure to chemicals at workplaces had been successfully completed in Ghana under the leadership of the Ministry of Science, Environment, Technology and Innovation with the keen interest of Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the Minister of MESTI.
‘’I am optimistic that this plan will give a sense of direction and the needed impetus to Ghana’s drive towards addressing environmental pollution and save the people from the negative effects on national productivity.
Mr Gordon Darkuu, Programme Officer for WHO said over 28,000 deaths in Ghana were associated with air pollution and called on the citizenry to help reduce or eliminate it.