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Life orientation

Grade 6

Healthy lifestyle

Module 2

Environmental health problems and action

Air pollution is one of those invisible enemies that have a detrimental affect on us every day. It is so much part of our lives that we don’t even realise that we live in a town or city over which there is always a cloud of smoke. A number of projects are under way to try to combat the problem. Each one of us can also do our little bit to help so that we don’t make the environment in which we live unbearable for posterity.

Activity 1:

To read a newspaper report and answer questions

[lo 1.2]

Read the following translation of a newspaper report ( Die Burger, 10 April, 2003) attentively and then answer the questions that follow:

Quality of Cape Town’s air has improved

Cape Town – The quality of the air in the mother city largely complies with international guidelines, said the city leaders, who are having to deal with allegations of large-scale air pollution in the metropole.

Mr Hans Linde, the town council’s manager of air pollution control, said that the quality of the air in the metropole has improved in the short term in recent years.

However, from March to September the number of particles and also the sulphur dioxide in the air often exceed the permissible levels owing to inversion conditions.

In such climatic conditions a brown haze hangs over the city. It is caused amongst other things by the exhaust fumes of motor vehicles.

Linde’s comments follow on the news that the quality of water in the Diep River near Vissershok and the quality of the air in Morning Star are currently being tested as a result of allegations of air pollution in the area. Some of the residents fear that they could be poisoned if something is not done about the pollution.

Mr Gerry Kuhn, an environmental engineer who has studied the quality of the air in the area, said that residents are exposed inter alia to large amounts of mercury, arsenic and aluminium.

Groundwork, an environmental pressure group, said that the aluminium levels in the air are 3 000 times the permissible level.

According to Kuhn’s study, the levels of 30 of the 33 poisonous elements (including mercury) are extremely high. However, the source of the pollution is still unknown.

According to the World Health Organisation, mercury poisoning can cause kidney problems and damage to the nervous system, amongst other things.

The incinerator for medical waste at Vissershok might be a cause of the pollution, said Kuhn.

Apart from the incinerator there are two dumpsites, an oil recycling plant and a brick-kiln in the area.

The Vissershok site is next to the N7 near the Caltex refinery, Table View and Morning Star. The site has been used as a dumpsite since the 1970s.

The lease of the existing Sanu-med incinerator was granted in March 1998.

Dr Ivan Toms, Cape Town’s medical officer, said that a scientific investigation in this regard could take up to six months.

According to Mr Ravi Pillay of the division of air quality control of the department of environmental affairs, the new legislation regarding air quality will be made available for comment this month.

Clearing-up operations due to air pollution often cost millions of rand.

jbontuy@dieburger.com

Answer the following questions:

  1. Which city in South Africa is the mother city?
  2. What does “metropole” mean? (Look up the meaning in a dictionary.)

3. Which poisonous gases or elements are mentioned in the report?

  1. What is meant by “inversion conditions”?
  2. In your opinion, apart from the exhaust fumes of motor vehicles, what could also contribute to the bigger cloud of smoke from March to September?

6. What type of pollution, other than air pollution, is also mentioned here?

7. What illnesses can be caused by mercury poisoning?

8. Name sources of pollution near Vissershok.

9. What happens to medical waste?

10. What threats does medical waste pose?

Activity 2:

To draw a map indicating sources of pollution

[lo 1.2]

Draw a map of the area around your school or house. Identify all possible sources of pollution in the area. Use a map, a road map or a municipal map of the environment, if possible.

Every individual can combat air pollution. It is not only large factories that should guard against air pollution. Every child can be taught from a young age how to avoid polluting the air.

Use the table on the next page to add to the list of household materials or common household practices that promote different types of pollution. Also think about how this can be curbed.

Household practice Type of pollution Environment-friendly solution
Use of plastic shopping bags LitteringThe environment is polluted as the bags are not biodegradable Use baskets or paper bags for shopping

Assessment

Learning outcomes(LOs)
LO 1
HEALTH PROMOTIONThe learner will be able to make informed decisions regarding personal, community and environmental health.
Assessment standards (ASs)
We know this when the learner:
1.1 interprets food labels and critically discusses health effects of listed ingredients;
1.2 participates in a problem-solving activity to address an environmental health issue to formulate environmentally sound choices and/or actions;
1.3 explains causes of communicable diseases (including HIV/AIDS) and available cures, and evaluates prevention strategies, in relation to community norms and personal values;
1.4 identifies different forms of abuse and suggests strategies to deal with them.

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Source:  OpenStax, Life orientation grade 6. OpenStax CNX. Sep 07, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11003/1.1
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