Public ill-advised on pollution

OUR people do not have adequate information about the effects of pollution on their health. When people are told about pollution, they are given the impression that only drinking polluted water or breathing polluted air is hazardous to he

alth. This leaves the people without information about how else they can get acute and chronic diseases from pollution.

Eating contaminated fish is one example on how people are unknowingly exposed to toxic chemicals. Fish obtained from lakes such as Lake Chivero that receive industrial and agricultural waste can be easily contaminated with toxic chemicals. One group of chemicals called persistent organic chemicals are a cause for concern because they dissolve in fat more than they dissolve in water. Therefore the fish living in a lake polluted with such chemicals will accumulate the chemicals in their fat and the larger amount of these chemicals will be in the fish instead of being in the water. Because these chemicals break down very slowly, the fat in the fish will have accumulated large amounts of the chemicals by the time the people catch the fish and eat them.

It is also disturbing to know that the toxic chemicals do not break down easily in man. They will also accumulate in the people’s fat and the more fish they eat, the more chemicals they accumulate. Some of these chemicals can be passed on to unborn children if pregnant women eat the contaminated fish.

Some of the chemicals that accumulate in animal fat are known to cause cancer and other health problems which may surface long after eating contaminated food. Sometimes the trouble begins after losing weight because on losing wait the chemical is released into circulation, thus disturbing the bodily functions.

The Ministry of Health can help by carrying out routine tests on fish from waters suspected to be contaminated with toxic chemicals. Otherwise the people’s health is at great risk.

Simon Bere,