Fires have been lit ‘willy nilly’ by Guyanese people all over the place causing ill health and danger to people’s property, and the possibility of it becoming a natural catastrophe because of the hot weather and also spreading to farms, buildings, and properties.
A few days ago someone ridiculously burnt tyres on the East Bank of Demerara causing confusion and mayhem to pedestrians, vehicular traffic and residents in the area.
I wish to write again that I am tired of Guyanese people not respecting other persons’ health. Many times I have observed the distressing practice here in Guyana of fires being lit at the back of residents’ homes, with the wind blowing in a direction so that it does not affect them – as what is presently done now by many of the residents in Atlantic Gardens where I live.
Some of the residents in Atlantic Gardens light such fires. This action of just lighting fires – which I deemed unreasonable, inconsiderate, and unprincipled – causes untold environmental and health effects on residents in many communities, not only in Atlantic Gardens, but across Guyana.
It affects the elderly and children, especially those with asthmatic conditions. In addition, it pollutes your homes when it enters, even if you have your windows closed – which makes your home hot and uncomfortable, destroying the curtains (which at times some residents have just bought and changed). In addition here in Atlantic Gardens, fish skin and fish scales are added to the garbage and burnt by the residents, which produces a pungent odour.
Fires are also lit in the Botanical Gardens where persons cut the grass and burn it, making it difficult for persons in the vicinity (NCN, the Sports Hall, Hadfield Street/Lodge and the National Cultural Centre etc.) to carry out their daily activities. I have been a direct witness and have also received numerous complaints of persons lighting fires recklessly and dangerously in communities such as Queenstown, Happy Acres, Ogle, etc. The grass in residents’ premises can be cut and used to form compost heaps or buried in the earth where it will rot and form humus for the planting of trees.
Fires lit and most importantly left unattended, I must stress again, can cause serious health and environmental problems such as complications due to smoke inhalation, destruction of plants – ecosystems (deforestation), soil erosion, air pollution and destruction of the ozone layer.
More specifically, unattended and unregulated fires cause depletion in animal species and habitat, can cause the state to incur costly evacuations and destruction costs, take human life, and can prevent the natural process in which soil and leafage absorb rainfall. Inhaling smoke for a short time can cause immediate (acute) effects. Smoke is irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat, and its odour may be nauseating. Studies have shown that some people exposed to heavy smoke have temporary changes in lung function, which makes breathing more difficult.
Two of the major agents in smoke that can cause health effects are carbon monoxide gas and very small particles. Inhaling carbon monoxide decreases the body’s oxygen supply. This can cause headaches, reduce alertness, and aggravate a heart condition known as angina.
Fine particles are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Inhaling fine particles can cause a variety of health effects, including respiratory irritation and shortness of breath, and can worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
During increased physical exertion, cardiovascular effects can be worsened by exposure to carbon monoxide and particulate matter (New York State Health Department: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/air/smoke_from_fire.htm, accessed on 15th March, 2019).
I am calling on the Government of Guyana through the Fire Department and Fire Chief to issue orders and prosecutions against people or anyone who lights unregulated fires. There must be serious enforcements of laws in this regard. Citizens must act responsibly in this area of concern.
Roshan Khan Snr.
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