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Liberia Environmental Agency Says Cancer, Heart Disease & Stroke Could Affect People Living Along RIA Road

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The estimated 64,000 people living along Liberia’s Roberts International are exposed to severe heath pandemic due to ongoing road work that grossly ignores environmental and safety guidelines.

East International, the company working along the route is beset by  series of occupational health and safety issues, the Environment Protection Agency said in a statement Wednesday.

The air in the affected communities is polluted because East does not regularly suppress dust along the road corridor, EPA said.

“East International company emits three times Particulate Matter 2.5 or PM2.5, which is a dust particle that can easily be inhaled and causes some respiratory problems, more than the WHO recommended limit.

“The majority (83%) of the people we interviewed reported that dust occurs constantly in their environment during the afternoon hours.  Some people reported respiratory problems such as coughing and asthma as the major health issues affecting them.”

The company has denied any wrong doing and vowed not to pay the $55,000 fine imposed by the agency.

Particulate matter is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a group one carcinogen – substances that are known to cause cancer in humans.

Air pollution poses one of the greatest environmental risks to health, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO estimates that in 2019, outdoor air pollution caused 4.2m premature deaths worldwide. Of these, 37% were due to ischaemic heart disease and stroke, while 18% resulted from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 23% from acute lower respiratory infections.

Exposure to PM2.5 increases the risk of many conditions, including lung diseases such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia; cardiovascular disease; stroke and neurological diseases.

“Short-term effects can manifest in the form of an exacerbation of existing symptoms, impaired lung function, and increased hospitalisation and mortality rates,” Mark Brooke, chief executive of the Lung Foundation Australia told the UK Guardian. “Long-term exposure to air with a high concentration of pollutants may also increase the incidence of COPD.”

Studies have shown that PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy is linked to adverse birth outcomes, including a greater risk of preterm births and newborns with low birth weights.

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