The Chief Sustainability Advisor at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mr Desmond Appiah has called on residents to desist from burning waste to reduce air pollution.

He said indiscriminate burning of waste, fumes from vehicles and unclean cooking methods were the leading causes of air pollution in the city.

In Ghana 1000 people died from air-polluted diseases such as lung disorders, stroke and blood pressure, annually.

Mr Appiah said this during an engagement with community leaders and traders on the Urban Health Initiative BreatheLife Accra Project, being undertaken in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, with support from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to improve air quality in Accra.

He said the Assembly decided to bring together stakeholders who were vulnerable to poor air quality so as to appreciate the consequences of air pollution.

“This project has been going on for about a year now, we have engaged selected communities, churches, and schools among others and today we believe that it is right to bring together street vendors, informal waste collectors and pickers, market women as well as transport operators to have an appreciation of the challenge and what can be done about it,” he said.

“We believe the first step is getting data and sharing the information.”

Mr Appiah said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had introduced a law to prohibit vehicles that produced fumes in the city and the driver arrested.

A Senior Lecturer of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Cape Coast, Dr Kofi Amegah in a presentation on; Air pollution in Accra City: Vulnerable Populations, Health Impacts and Interventions, said air pollution was a major environmental risk to health.

He said major sources of air pollution in Accra were vehicular emissions, industrial emissions, suspended road dust, emissions from landfill sites, power generation plants, use of solid fuels for domestic and commercial cooking and solid waste burning at home.

“Seven million people die prematurely every year from air pollution and among these deaths 34 per cent, 21 per cent, and 20 per cent are from Ischaemic heart diseases, pneumonia and strokes, respectively,” Dr Amegah said.

He said 19 percent of the deaths associated with air pollution were also from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease while seven per cent were from lung cancer.

Air pollution is the presence of substances in the atmosphere that were harmful to the health of humans and other living beings, or cause damage to the climate or to materials some of which, he said, could be solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, methane and chlorofluorocarbons, particulates, and organic and inorganic biological molecules, Mr Amegah said.

It was the responsibility of every individual to ensure the cleanliness of the city, he said, and appealed to drivers to also service their vehicles regularly to reduce pollution.

“I would like to advise that we patronise public transport, ride bicycles and use Liquefied Petroleum Gas instead of using firewood,” he said.