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Poorly Located Asphalt Plant Causes Respiratory Illnesses in Residents of Lethem

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22nd of October, 2021. Region 9, Guyana, South America.

Last updated: October 29, 2021 at 16:10 pm

A poorly located asphalt plant along Lethem’s Main Commercial Road is causing grave inconvenience and a consequential health hazard to residents of Lethem, Region 9, Guyana, South America. The plant was erected and has been in operation since the year 2018. According to the residents, the asphalt plant is not located in the designated industrial zone where it should be, but in Lethem’s commercial zone, very close to houses and businesses.

The residents related that the dust generated from the asphalt plant regularly enter homes and business places. In addition to alighting on surfaces, walls, goods, belongings, foodstuff etc, the dust from the asphalt plant is causing respiratory illness in residents, especially children and elderly persons.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, several residents related to this publication that the dust from the asphalt plant is making people sick by entering the respiratory tract and causing breathing difficulties as well as other respiratory illnesses. In this context, residents fear that, if someone contracts Covid-19 – which also causes respiratory illnesses, their condition can be compounded by the harmful effects of the asphalt plant pollutants, making recovery less possible, and serious illness and death more probable.

The residents said they have petitioned the relevant authorities in Lethem, and although promises have been made for a long time, nothing is being done to relocate the asphalt plant to an area, such as the industrial zone, where it is less likely to pose a health hazard to residents.

This publication sought the advice of a qualified professional in the field of environmental sciences, health and safety, Dr. Brian Moench, who is the Board President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment in the USA.

“Anybody that’s in close proximity to an asphalt plant has very legitimate concerns about the health consequences and their exposure to pollution,” said Dr. Brian Moench.

He explained that there are three main categories of air pollutants considered harmful to human health: ozone, particulate matter and chemicals or tiny fragments of metal that attach themselves to particulate matter. That third category of air pollutants is of concern to many. PAHs, or polyaromatic hydrocarbons, are a class of these harmful chemicals, which includes benzene and naphthalene. “Those are very toxic to human health. They’re carcinogens, they’re reproductive toxins, some of them are neurotoxins,” says Moench.

Team Guyana, South America joins the call of the affected residents of Lethem for swift action in relocating this asphalt plant to an area where it poses minimal hazards to people. We wish to remind all Guyanese that the right to breathe clean air is a basic human right. We also call on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate this matter as early as possible with an effort to rectify the problem.

Related: Improperly Placed Asphalt Plant was Erected Under APNU/AFC Coalition Government.

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