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Meteorological Agency advises public to wear masks, stay indoors

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The Meteorological Agency in the Upper East Region has asked the public to wear nose masks and stay indoors as much as they can. This is so that they can protect themselves from the effects of the weather and the rising dust levels.

For residents in the Upper East, the quality of the air has been a major challenge in recent weeks. The atmosphere has been filled with dust and some extreme haziness.

Extreme Hazy Weather Due to Winds from Sahel

Speaking to Mark Smith on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East Show, the Upper East Regional Director for the Meteorological Agency, Abu Braimah, explained that the extreme hazy weather and the floating particles and elements in the atmosphere, as has been reported by many residents in the region, is due to winds from the Sahel.

“What is happening presently in the Upper East Region is not from Ghana but rather from the Sahel – Niger and parts of the Sahara desert. These are winds. We are experiencing cold from there, and because of the intensification of the wind, it is bringing all the cold and haziness to Ghana,” he said.

Health Hazards and Precautions

“This weather situation is actually hazardous and has an effect on human life. The only thing is that we have to be cautious and encourage people to use nose masks and stay indoors just to protect themselves,” he said.

Mr. Braimah explained that the current conditions will clear up within two weeks. This means that quality of air could be restored after that. “Within two weeks, this would go away completely,” he assured.

Misleading Social Media Message

The conversation around the state of the weather and the quality of air was necessitated by a text that was circulated on some social media pages. This text was purportedly written by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Information reaching us from EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is that the current change in weather / atmosphere across the country is not harmattan, but rather an extreme form of air pollution with dire consequences on human health. This can be hazardous and lead to: Reduced Lung function, Respiratory infection, Inflammation, xidative Stress (low level of antioxidants which even creates an imbalance in your body).  Consequently, everyone is being advised to please: Mask-up (wear nose mask), Stay hydrated (Drink more water) preferably warm water, Cover food and water very well to prevent dust from settling on them, Wash fruits very well before eating, Stay indoors as much as possible. This condition may prevail for a considerable period of time. Let’s take note, adhere strictly, keep our family and friends informed,” the statement said.

Checks by this website with sources within the EPA show that the current message circulating was not issued by the Agency.

EPA’s Statement

It would however be recalled that the Agency, sometime before the close of 2023 issued a statement warning residents across the country about the rising dust levels.

“The Environmental Protection Agency wishes to inform the general public that due to the onset of the harmattan season as indicated by Ghana Meteorological Agency’s 2023/2024 Harmattan Advisory Update -2, we have observed an increase in particulate levels (dust levels) from our monitoring sites since 13 December 2023. The vulnerable groups especially the elderly, children, pregnant women, people with asthma and related allergies and any other persons with underlying health conditions are entreated to reduce outdoor activities where necessary. Additionally, the general public is advised to take all necessary precautionary measures to stay safe by taking note of the following: Use pollution masks where necessary, Desist from open burning of waste and other materials, Sprinkle water on dusty surfaces before sweeping to reduce dust emissions, Vehicle users should reduce speeding on untarred roads to reduce dust emissions. We will continue to monitor the situation and promptly update the public on any new development,” the statement read.

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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