Doctor raises alarm on 'public health crisis'

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March 23, 2017

Dr. Arlington Lightbourne, a general practitioner, yesterday urged all physicians to join him in bringing awareness to the "public health crisis" The Bahamas is now faced with due to repeated fires at the New Providence Landfill.
The most recent fire has been burning for 18 days.
When the fire broke out on March 5, authorities urged residents of Jubilee Gardens, which is near the landfill, to evacuate.
The all-clear has not yet been given.
Smoke completely covered the area and even spread to several other communities.
Many residents experienced multiple health complications and received care at clinics while others were hospitalized.
Lightbourne said his biggest concern is the well-being of Jubilee Gardens residents.
He pointed out that "proper air quality is a fundamental right" that those residents do not have.
"I call this a public health crisis," said Lightbourne during an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
"This is a national crisis.
"We have made the decision, however it was made, to place a residential community next to a poorly managed dump, which should be a landfill and it should be OK, but because it is not managed appropriately, it has caused tremendous pain and suffering for the residents who live nearby.
"It's our responsibility as a country [to fix the problem].
"Certainly the government should take the lead on fixing this problem for the residents of that community."
Lightbourne labeled the fires a "national problem".
He said, "This island is only 21 by 7 [miles].
"So just because you don't live in Jubilee doesn't mean you're not being impacted by this.
"We all are.
"I'm seeing patients with dizziness, sore throat, allergies, asthma attacks, and these are people who live very far away from the dump and there's no doubt that there is a connection between the fumes in the air and their symptoms."
Earlier this week, Lightbourne visited the community to meet with a group of residents to continue to raise awareness about the effects smoke inhalation has on people who commonly inhale it.
His experience in the community more than two weeks after the fire started left him in "shock".
"I was there for all of 10 minutes, and after I left, the smoke smell was overwhelming," he said.
"I had to go and shower from the top of my head to the sole of my feet in order to get the smoke off.
"Every part of my clothing had to immediately come off, because even my house was filled with fumes.
"It overcame my home. It is really sad that people live in that state."
While he said it is not a political problem, because it has developed over successive administrations, Lightbourne said he doesn't think the government is doing enough for its people.
He said, given the gravity of the situation, if it takes placing residents in a hotel for an indefinite period until the landfill is properly managed on a consistent basis, then that should be done immediately.
Lightbourne said "funding should not be an excuse" when the government found money to hold Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival. He suggested the government discontinue the event for a while.
"We take approximately 25,000 breaths a day," he said.
"That means there is nothing you interface with more than air.
"So most definitely, air quality is one of the most important issues affecting our health.
"... These people are consistently inhaling whatever is burning from the dump, which can be the byproduct of metals, tires, plastic and medical waste.
"Long-term implications range from things like adult-onset asthma, meaning people who never had asthma before developing asthma-like symptoms; pulmonary fibrosis, which results in repeated lung infections; chronic obstructive disorders like bronchitis and emphysema, which are generally only seen in smokers, but are very, very likely to be a long-term result of repeated exposure; and then cancers."
Lightbourne said the area should not be livable, but if residents must stay, he advised they have their homes hazmat cleaned a few times a year, including the frequent cleaning of upholstery and the use of air purifiers.
He also urged residents in general to practice healthy lifestyles, which includes a healthy diet, exercise and drinking sufficient water.
It increases the body's efficiency in eliminating toxins, Lightbourne pointed out.

Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian

News date : 03/23/2017    Category : Nassau Guardian Stories

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