Chronic Respiratory Diseases

Building on our previous article regarding the health hazard that mine dumps pose on communities, here is a portion of a journal article regarding chronic respiratory diseases that are caused by poor air quality.
Chronic Respiratory Diseases
Source –
“Chronic respiratory diseases are among the leading causes of death worldwide . A recent review indicated that developing countries are experiencing an increase in the prevalence of respiratory diseases and projected trends of severity and frequency are likely to pose a public health challenge. Studies have shown that both indoor and outdoor air pollution are the main risk factors for the burden of respiratory diseases and elderly people are mostly affected as a result of normal and pathological ageing. A higher burden of respiratory diseases among the elderly could be of concern to South Africa’s rapidly increasing population aged 60 years and above, currently the second largest in sub-Saharan Africa.
In developing countries where health risks of air pollution may be underappreciated and effective air pollution abatement techniques are lacking, people are continually exposed to concentrations that can have negative health effects in both the short and long term. Various risk factors have been associated with chronic respiratory diseases, including gender, socio-economic status, tobacco smoking habits, occupational environment and polluting fuel used for residential cooking/heating. Studies conducted in South Africa on the prevalence of respiratory diseases have been in industrialized urban areas.
Mine dump facilities are the main source of airborne particulate matter pollution, the dust is blown into the surrounding communities and can potentially have adverse health effects on human health and ecology. Communities located close to mine dumps are of lower socio-economic status, often children and the elderly. These communities consist of historically disenfranchised ethnic groups living in government-funded houses, informal settlements and retired homes . Epidemiological studies have shown that residing near mines is a major risk for exposure to particulate matter and metals such as cadmium, lead, silica, manganese, lead and arsenic. Exposure to mine dump dust that is that is rich in silica has been linked to the development of chronic bronchitis, emphysema and airflow obstruction. Settle-able dust has a negative effect on visibility, when it forms dust plumes while its deposition on fabrics, buildings, vehicles and water tanks constitutes a nuisance. The ongoing reclamation of mine dumps for gold recovery observed during the survey, is worsening dust pollution with further deterioration of ambient air quality in the study populations. Many epidemiological studies have linked the effects of ambient air pollution with respiratory diseases. Elderly people are potentially highly vulnerable to the effect of ambient air pollution, due to normal and pathological aging.
No studies have investigated whether exposure to mine dust or living in close proximity to mine dumps poses an increased risk for respiratory diseases among elderly people or possible effect modifications between various air pollution sources, including mine dust.
This study is part of the bigger project initiated by Mine Health Safety Council of South Africa (MHSC) around communities located near mine dumps in Gauteng and North West provinces. It is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study that has investigated the association between potential risk factors and chronic respiratory diseases among elderly people staying in communities situated near mine dumps in South Africa. The aim of the study was to investigate whether the prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms and diseases among the elderly community were associated with proximity to mine dumps. Effect modification between proximity to mine dumps and other air pollution sources was also investigated, for instance the type of fuel use for residential cooking/heating, tobacco smoking and history of occupational exposure to dust or chemical fumes.”
To read the study click the link above.
Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

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