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Impact of pollution

Crop-Over is fast approaching and many young people including my neighbours and close friends have taken to the road for much needed exercise. Although I have written about the amount of pollution in the atmosphere before, I am writing again with the hope that some law maker or “big-up” will read about it and recognise that something needs to be done ASAP.

It was around 6 a.m. last Saturday morning while walking on the road opposite the Glebe Polyclinic, that several vehicles passed by “belching” out large quantities of black, smelly soot into the atmosphere. This situation seems to be increasing as every other vehicle on that morning seemed to be emitting large amounts of carbon and other noxious fumes into the atmosphere.

I am therefore forced to repeat an article where I wrote about this issue. The article this week is on pollution and its impact on our environment and health.

As you all know, I like to do research because we cannot be the first country that has encountered this problem. Firstly, research from the UK has suggested that road transportation accounted for about 22 per cent of the total emissions of carbon dioxide. The report also made clear that in addition to carbon dioxide, the air pollutants from vehicles also included nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.

It is not surprising that the article implied that all of these substances have a damaging effect on the health of people, animals and vegetation. Furthermore, the report also revealed that the air quality along busy streets contained higher percentages of these deadly substances than country lanes.

The research from England was very interesting because while there, I did not see any vehicles emitting large plumes of murky, putrid exhaust fumes like here. They appear to be cognizant of the impact vehicle emissions can have on the health of their citizens.

It must be noted here that not all harmful emissions are visible or smelly since carbon monoxide is one of the deadliest gas emissions but has no taste, colour or smell hence the concern.

The point here is that other countries like England seem to be concerned about the 22 per cent vehicular emissions while we must be allowing at least three or four times that amount along our urban corridors.

You must be wondering how these emissions can impact on employee behaviour. Well a report done by the Australian Government (and found on suggests that carbon monoxide enters the body through the lungs when we inhale. Although normal levels do not cause ill effects, when sufficiently concentrated it can be harmful enough to result in poor concentration, memory loss, loss of muscle coordination and vision impairment. In addition, repeated exposure may result in headaches, fatigue and other symptoms.

The article further explained that the reason why such symptoms are felt is because when the carbon monoxide mixes with the haemoglobin in the blood it forms into carboxyhaemoglobin which reduces the amount of oxygen the blood carries through the body. This can result in heart disease or damage to the nervous system.

In addition, exposure to vehicle emissions can impact on the health of pregnant women causing low birth weight in babies, foetal mortality and other damage to the nervous system of their off spring.

Furthermore, an article on health issues by the BBC suggests that vehicle emissions are a major contributor to premature deaths due to asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems. They also made reference to a Dutch study (published in 2009) which revealed that as air pollution increased in areas with high exhaust emissions, illnesses like lung disorders increased ( uk/health/physical_health/conditions/exhaust _emissions.shtml).

It is also interesting to note that two major health intuitions are located on Black Road where I constantly notice large quantities of emissions from vehicles. In addition, several schools and residences are also located in this vicinity. This does not mean that this observation is specific to this location only, I am sure that they are other areas of our country which are experiencing similar effects.

Let us now consider the problems this can cause at the macro level of the country. Consider the impact of this problem on our health care facilities that are already stretched to capacity with several chronic disease problems The results could be damaging to the performance of all employees and the overall productivity of the country.

Given the dire straits (poor economic resources) that we appear to be in at this juncture in our history, can we afford to ignore this threat. I hope that you get the picture.

I believe that all stakeholders, including Government, can support the implementation of policies that underpin promoting a clean environment. I believe that if others can do it, so can we. Until next time…

* Daren Greaves is a Management & Organisational Psychology Consultant at Dwensa Incorporated. e-mail:, Phone: (246) 436-4215

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