Investigating the impacts of environmental pollution and highlighting the need for environmental restoration

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Mohamed Aqiel Dalvie

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There is a lack of environmental health data in Africa, which is undergoing rapid development. The SA-Swiss Bilateral Research Chair in Global Environmental Health therefore aims to conduct locally and globally relevant studies in this setting. Project 1 included a cohort study that investigated the effects of chemical and biological air pollution on childhood asthma in four informal settlements of the Western Cape, South Africa. Project 2 is a cohort study investigating the effects of pesticide pollution on childhood reproduction and neurodevelopment. Project 3 include two cross-sectional surveys on the effect of water pollution and hygiene on diarrhoea among residents of informal settlements in the Lotus River catchment area in the Western Cape. Project 4 aims to investigate the effect of climate change on health. In the panel study, short-term fungal spore exposure was found to significantly decrease lung function even beyond the day of exposure. In the air pollution cohort study, nitrogen oxide levels (daily annual mean = 14 µg/m3) below international exposure limits significantly increased asthma symptoms and reduced airway inflammation at one-year follow-up. Preliminary findings from the pesticide study, show that more than 80% of participants reported exposure to spraying and about 20% reported contact with pesticides. In the water pollution surveys, more than 10% of samples had mercury and arsenic levels above health standards due to contamination of containers. Implications for policy interventions and environmental restoration will be determined and results will be communicated to relevant stakeholders.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration