The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has urged the government to enact laws that would reduce chemical pollution, detect and monitor harmful chemicals in the environment.
Dr Williams Ologunde, the Chairman, Committee of Environmental Health Standard of NMA, disclosed this at the maiden National Health Advancement Conference organised by Help Keep Clean Foundation on Thursday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the theme of the conference is “Environmental Health: Re-awakening national awareness on environmental health hazards and safety”.
Ologunde noted that such efforts would checkmate the rate of chemical emissions in the air and further mitigate the rate of environmental health hazards or challenges in the country.
Presenting a paper tagged “The role of NMA in environmental health hazards and control”, Olugunde expressed concern over the chemicals that persisted in the environment, describing it as having low rates of biodegradable and bio accumulation in human and animal tissue.
Ologunde identified some harmful effects of environmental hazards to include respiratory problems headache, fatigue, drowsiness and death.
According to him, on a daily basis our body is exposed to all sorts of environmental hazards like bacteria, viruses and sun’s ultra violet rays due to environmental pollution resulting from chemicals.
He defined environmental health hazard as substance, a state of or an event which has potential to threaten the surrounding natural environment or adversely affect people’s health.
He said: “Environmental health hazard include but not limited to occupational health hazard which may be biological, chemical, physical or psychological in nature.
“It also includes traditional hazards of poor sanitation and shelter as well as agricultural and industrial contamination of air, food and land.
“Hazard refers to those factors or conditions which have the potential to pose a threat to human health and well being.’’
Ologunde emphasised that there is urgent need to protect the ecosystem from further degradation activities by promoting eco friendly initiatives.
According to him, these can only be done by advocating and supporting relevant legislation and continuous environmental health education to increase the consciousness of the populace on right practices that would limit the effect of environmental health hazards in our various communities.
“The atmosphere is composed of Nitrogen 78 per cent, Oxygen 21 per cent, Argon 0.93 per cent and Carbon dioxide 0.04 per cent.
“But unfortunately, all of man’s actions are to the effect unbalancing the normal ratio, making the naturally lowest component to become the highest concentration.
“Without adequate control and legislation the harmful consequences of all these can be more catastrophic than the effect of nuclear bomb,” he said.
The chairman further urged government at all levels to support international efforts to restrict chemical pollution through safe management or phase out and safer substitution when unmanageable.
According to him, government have the primary responsibility for establishing a framework to protect the public health from chemical hazards.
He identified efforts by the association to curb environmental health hazards to include informing patients on the importance of safe disposal of pharmaceuticals that are not consumed.
“We ensure that environmental health and occupational medicines become a core theme in medical education curricular and also support efforts to rehabilitate or clean areas of environmental degradation based on polluter pays,’’ he said. (NAN)