Mining and the air you breathe – how you can mitigate the health risks

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coal mining pollutionThe effects of mining on human health are shocking. Take control of the air you breathe indoors with an air purification system.

South Africa is a mining mecca and, while the country’s mining riches may be great for the economy, the same cannot be said for our health.

Fortunately, however, the serious health risks associated with mining pollution – as outlined in this article, below – can be considerably mitigated by purifying the indoor air you breathe at home and at work with a good quality air purification system.

pbOffice, a division of PBSA, offers a range German-made air purifiers, humidifiers and combo units to serve all household and business premises indoor air purification requirements. Designed and manufactured by Ideal in Balingen, Germany our state-of-the-art devices work on a multi-stage air purification system, which filters almost 100% of pollutants from the air before they reach your lungs.

Mining in South Africa and your health

The adverse effects of mining activity on human health – and the environment at large – is a stark reality that environmentalists, politicians and civil activists alike have been trying to grapple with for years now. Unfortunately, it is a reality we cannot escape.

South Africa – the world’s third largest coal exporter – is also home to a host of other minable minerals, including diamonds, gold, platinum, palladium, chromium, uranium, manganese, ilmenite, zirconium, vanadium, rutile and vermiculite.

Over the past few months there has been a heightened focus on the effects of coal mining, in particular, on human health. In September, UK-based air quality and health expert Dr Mike Holland visited South Africa and uncovered some shocking air quality issues surrounding the country’s coal-mining activities.

According to Holland, air pollution from coal-fired power stations kills more than 2 200 South Africans and causes thousands of cases of bronchitis and asthma in adults and children every year. The accumulative monetary damage to the economy – which includes healthcare costs and lost working days – is more than R30-billion a year.

The recent visit follows in-depth research undertaken by Holland last year. Commissioned by local non-profit environmental justice service groundWork, Holland’s findings are contained in a report entitled Health impacts of coal-fired power plants in South Africa.

Shocking figures

These are some of the estimated annual impacts Holland attributes to air pollution from the burning of coal in South Africa:

  • 2 239 deaths – 157 from lung cancer, 1110 from ischaemic heart disease, 73 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 719 from strokes, and 180 from lower respiratory infection
  • 2 781 cases of chronic bronchitis in adults
  • 9 533 cases of bronchitis in children aged 6 to 12
  • 94 680 days of asthma symptoms in children aged 5 to 19
  • 2 379 hospital admissions
  • 3 972 902 restricted activity days (all ages)
  • 996 628 lost working days

On 26 September 2017, the South African Medical Research Council released research findings on Air Quality and Human Health in South Africa that corroborate the gravity of the situation, as laid out in Holland’s reports.

The council report outlines how air pollution plays a direct role in a number of adverse health conditions in adults and children, and points out that the situation is only set to worsen, due to climate change.

The report highlights indoor air as one of the biggest culprits in its report background: “In 2015, 6.4 million deaths (and 167.2 DALYs*) were attributed to air pollution globally. Household air pollution accounted for 2.8 million of these deaths [and] ranked [as the] 7th leading risk factor attributing DALYs globally in 2013.”

Reduce your risk

There is an often-quoted statistic that indicates many adults spend up to 90% of their time indoors, between home and the office.

What’s worse, is that children are now starting to spend more time indoors in South Africa too. Earlier this year, in February, Stats SA’s Victims of Crime survey revealed that most South Africans spend less time in public open spaces or allow their children to play outside for fear of crime.

When you consider that some studies have shown indoor air to be two to five times more polluted than the air outside, it is clear that it is the indoor air that we breathe which should be our first line of attack when it comes to defending our – and our children’s – lungs.

And this goes for office workers, too. According to research conducted by the University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, employers can improve workforce performance by up to 10% through improvements in the quality of indoor air.

Air purifiers have been proven to limit the risks of illness caused by airborne pollutants by eliminating the vast majority of airborne substances that are a danger to our health and well-being, and cleaning the air we breathe.

In light of our environmental circumstances, never has it been more crucial than it is today, to ensure air we take into our lungs on a daily basis – both at home and at work – is clean. Invest in your health today, by investing in an air purifier.

For more information on the various Ideal models and features, visit our Air Purifiers web page or call 010 300 4893.

[NOTES]

* The disability-adjusted life year (DALY) is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.

[REFERENCES]

  1. Wikipedia – Economy of South Africa
  2. Wikipedia – Mining industry of South Africa
  3. co.za – Effects of Mining on the Environment and Human Health
  4. ee Publishers – Air pollution from coal power stations deadly
  5. Dr Mike Holland – Health impacts of coal-fired power generation in South Africa (PDF)
  6. South African Medical Research Council – Air Quality and Human Health in South Africa (PDF)
  7. Huffington Post – How employee productivity chokes on indoor air
  8. EPA’s report on the Environment – The importance of indoor air quality
  9. Sandton Chronicle – Stats SA – South Africans spend more time indoors because of crime

Hello clean air, goodbye hay fever

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summer allergies

Investing in a good quality air purifier will create a pure-air haven for you and your family, curbing those pesky summer sniffles.

It’s the height of summer, many South Africans’ favourite season and a time when you should be enjoying the radiance and outdoor activities the season brings – but you feel like you’ve been battered with a winter flu stick.

If this sounds like you – runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and nose – you may be one of the many people who suffers from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever. This is a type of inflammation in the nose caused by the immune system overreacting to allergens in the air. Although pollen is the primary culprit, other common airborne irritants like pet dander, smoke and dust exacerbate the condition.

According to the Allergy Society of South Africa, up to 20% of South Africans suffer from allergic reactions, with hay fever being rife – especially during change of season. And, although this often overlooked ailment does not come with the same level of notoriety that winter conditions like flu do, it can be just as debilitating.

And it is not only during waking hours that hay fever affects health and performance. According to research, two-thirds of hay fever sufferers continue to experience symptoms while trying to sleep. “[These people] are losing an average of more than an hour of sleep a night as they struggle with streaming noses and itchy eyes,” writes the UK’s Daily Mail.

“An estimated 80 per cent of people with asthma are at increased risk of having an attack because they also suffer from hay fever.”

Now for the good news

But don’t cancel your summer plans just yet – the good news is, there are sure-fire means of managing and mitigating hay fever symptoms considerably. pbOffice, a division of PBSA, offers you one of the most safe and effective of these with its German-made indoor air purification systems by IDEAL.

Studies have shown that people spend around 90% of their time indoors – a figure that is rising, not abating – and indoor air can be up to 100 times dirtier than the air outside. Unlike the outdoors, airborne irritants and bacteria are largely trapped, churning constantly in the indoor air that we spend so much time breathing in.

A good quality air purifier in your home and office environment can trap up to 100% of these summer spoilers, including germs, dust, pet dander, smoke, pollen, mould spores, odours and vapours and various allergens.

Award-winning online information source HowStuffWorks, confirms air purifiers – in particular those that have met the strict regulations and attained HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) certification – can help with allergies.

“No matter how much you clean your home, you cannot rid the air completely of allergens and other airborne irritants. Air purifiers are devices that are designed to clean the air in your house and improve the quality of air you and your family breathe.”

pbOffice’s range of top-quality air purifiers feature all the vital mechanisms that are needed to turn contaminated, harmful indoor air into clean, allergen-free air – including HEPA filters and intelligent air quality sensors.

Our devices work on a multi-stage air purification system, which filters almost 100% of the smallest particles and pathogenic germs from the polluted air before they reach your airway.

Investing in an air purifier for your home and office will allow you to breathe and sleep better, by turning your indoor environment into a safe, clean haven away from the wave of airborne irritants that vex you on a daily basis.

For more information, visit our Air Purifiers web page or call 010 300 4893.