Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Medical Association wants details of Riverton air quality tests

Published:Tuesday | March 24, 2015 | 9:50 AM

The Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) has joined calls for the Ministry of Health to release details on the air quality tests conducted during the height of the fire at the Riverton disposal site.

The dump has been on fire since Wednesday, March 11.

MAJ president, Dr Shane Alexis, says details of the method used to collect the data and the list of chemicals which were identified during the test and their quantity in the atmosphere must be released.

Alexis reiterated that the fire at Riverton is a public health concern which needs to be addressed.

The Ministry of Health indicated yesterday that the results of the air quality tests conducted on March 13 and 14 show that there were high levels of hazardous substances including, cancer-causing benzene.

While noting that the ministry considers this to be a significant public health issue, the health ministry suggested that there should be no long-term effects from inhaling the smoke from the fire.

And according to the ministry, for someone to have long-term effects that individual would have to be exposed to benzene over months or up to a one year.

It said short-term effects may include drowsiness, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, headache, tremors and confusion.

More than 800 people have had to seek medical attention as a result of smoke from the Riverton fire.