11 June 2019

Liberia: 'Air Pollution Threatens Humanity'

-Experts, medical practitioners say at World Environmental Day

Liberia and its partners on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, joined the rest of the world in the celebration of this year's World Environmental Day with the most important message being the existent danger that air pollution poses to humanity.

Air pollution is gradually becoming a global crisis and this year's global theme for the celebration, "Beat Air Pollution," is a call to action to combat this global crisis.

Chosen by this year's host, China, the topic, in the words of UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, invites "us to consider how we can change our everyday lives by reducing the amount of air pollution we produce, and thwart its contribution to global warming and its effects on our own health."

In Liberia, the ceremonies commemorating the day were organized under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), held at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville City.

The event, which was characterized by a street parade, panel discussions, cultural performances and speeches, was held under the national theme: "Clean Air, Good Health." It attracted scores of students from Monrovia and its immediate environs, environmental-related NGOs, and community-based organizations.

The keynote speaker, Assistant Lands and Mines Minister, Miller Carter, called on Liberians to respect the environment as their own livelihoods hinge on how vibrant the environment is to human survival.

"We, as people, need to talk about the choices we can make that will ensure that our environment is clean and the air we breathe are clear," Carter said.

"While our primary focus is on the link between air pollution and health, it is worth noting that the damage from air pollution spreads beyond its direct impacts on humans."

In a statement, Guterres said that understanding the different types of pollution, and how it affects people's health and environment, will help the world take steps toward improving the quality of air.

"It is time to act decisively. My message to government is clear: tax pollution; end fossil fuel subsidies; and stop building new coal plants. We need a green economy not a grey economy," he said.

The UN Secretary-General noted that air pollution is a dangerous threat as it is practically invincible. "Often you cannot even see it, but air pollution is everywhere. We cannot stop breathing, but we can do something about the quality of our air. Nine out of ten people worldwide are exposed to levels of air pollutants that exceed safe levels set by the World Health Organization. There is little doubt -- we are faced with an urgent task," Guterres said.

EPA Deputy Executive Director, Randall M. Dobayou II, called on all Liberians to work collectively in safeguarding the environment by enhancing sustainable the best practices.

Dobayou termed the celebration as a day for everyone to connect or reconnect with nature in ways that encourage environmental protection.

"This should also remind us about the role we all have to play in protecting the earth that we share as our home," he said.

Dobayou added, "The EPA wants to assure every Liberian and our partners that we are committed to ensuring quality environment, good health for all of our residents."

He said the EPA has been raising public awareness that seeks to promote understanding of essential linkages between socioeconomic development and environment protection.

"This is with the key objective that environmental knowledge to all Liberians becomes an integral part of our education system," Dobayou said.

He added that the EPA, over the years, has been engaging with CSOs, NGOs, CBOs and various municipalities and others in the proper management of the environment.

He also said that the institution has also finalized four key regulations to ensure public and environmental safety. These include burial regulation, fumigation guidelines, water quality regulation and the procedure for cyanide handling.

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