Today, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning started an outreach campaign to primary schools in the Karoo and Kannaland regions to raise awareness around the growing problem of air pollution, which is not only a major contributor towards climate change but, according to the World Health Organisation, is also the second leading cause of non-communicable diseases, such as stroke, cancer and heart disease, which are on the rise worldwide.
The outreach forms part of the 5 June global World Environment Day program. This year’s theme is #BeatAirPollution.
The Minister for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, Anton Bredell says the Department is committed to ensuring a cleaner, safer environment for all citizens of the province.
“In order to protect the air that we breathe, we have prioritised steps focused on improving air quality and waste management across the province. This is done by investing in specialised skills and equipment like air quality monitoring infrastructure.”
Gottlieb Arendse, Chief Director for Environmental Quality in the Department says he’s glad the issue of air pollution is being highlighted this year. “Air pollution is a major problem but it is also preventable. Addressing the effects of air pollution requires an integrated approach with waste management – as this is one of the leading causes of air pollution in the province.”
The schools visited includes St Matthews, Murraysburg and Van Wyksdorp primary schools.
One of the key messages to learners were: “Even though you can’t see it, air pollution is everywhere”.
The causes of air pollution and solutions to improving air quality was also presented to learners in an interactive presentation ending with a clean-up of the school grounds. Some of the tips given to learners to #BeatAirPollution included starting clean-up initiatives in their neighbourhoods, start recycling to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill sites and lastly to not burn any waste as it releases harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.
Joy Leaner, Director for Air Quality Management in the Department says one of the main causes of air pollution in small towns and communities is the uncontrolled burning of waste material that is often used for cooking and heating. “These types of fires have detrimental effects on human health.”
World Environment Day 2019 calls on citizens globally to consider how we can change our everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollution we produce, and prevent its contribution to global warming and its effects on our own health.
For more information on the Province’s Air Quality Management.
For more information on World Environment Day.