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Threats to the Environment in Sierra Leone

The role of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA-SL) in this sector is diverse. Therefore, the provisions in the EPA Act of 2008 as amended in 2010 related to this sector are been implemented in collaboration with national and international partners. In December 2018, the Agency in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau adopted environmental standards for Air, waste water, Soil, Noise, hazardous substance list, Refrigerants and refrigeration technicians. This will enhance effective regulation and monitoring of impact levels in our environment. The activity was also witnessed by the Director of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau Prof. Thomas B.R. Yormah and his team, the respective technical team leads established by the Bureau and the technical team from the Agency. The event lasted for 3 days. This activity was in partial fulfillment of the Agency‟s responsibility as outlined in Part III Section 12 (h) of the EPA Act of 2008 as amended in 2010 which states that the Agency can “prescribe standards and guidelines relating to ambient air, water and soil quality, the pollution of air, water, land and other forms of environmental pollution including the discharge of wastes and the control of toxic substances”. In addition to the above, the Agency published a research on the use of chemicals (Mercury) in the artisanal and small-scale gold sector. This was undertaken with the support of local and international partners. As a party to the Minamata convention on Mercury, Sierra Leone is obliged under Article 7(2) which states that “Each Party that has artisanal and small-scale gold mining and processing subject to this Article within its territory shall take steps to reduce, and where feasible eliminate, the use of mercury and mercury compounds in, and the emissions and releases to the environment of mercury from such mining and processing”, to undertake an initial assessment of our mercury levels.

Apart from the immediate effects of burns and smoke inhalation, bushfire affected communities can suffer other health consequences. Smoke from bushfires can cause serious air pollution, including high levels of particulate matter less than 10 μm (PM10).And, when fire rages through dry underbrush, it clears thick growth so sunlight can reach the forest floor and encourage the growth of native species. Fire frees these plants from the competition delivered by invasive weeds and eliminates diseases or droves of insects that may have been causing damage to old growth. Impact of fire on soil life and nutrients. The impact of fires on vegetation and wildlife is obvious. … Nutrient levels and soil organic matter both increase after fire. Spanish research showed a significant increase in soil pH, carbon and nutrients immediately after a prescribed grass fire. Forest fires increase carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect and climate change. In addition, ashes destroy much of the nutrients and erode the soil, causing flooding and landslides.

For thousands of years, sand and gravel have been used in the construction of roads and buildings. Today, demand for sand and gravel continues to increase. Mining operators, The Environment Protection Agency, must work to ensure that sand mining is conducted in a responsible manner. Excessive instream sand-and-gravel mining causes the degradation of rivers. Instream mining lowers the stream bottom, which may lead to bank erosion. Depletion of sand in the streambed and along coastal areas causes the deepening of rivers and estuaries, and the enlargement of river mouths and coastal inlets. It may also lead to saline-water intrusion from the nearby sea. The effect of mining is compounded by the effect of sea level rise. Any volume of sand exported from streambeds and coastal areas is a loss to the system.Excessive instream sand mining is a threat to bridges, river banks and nearby structures. Sand mining also affects the adjoining groundwater system and the uses that local people make of the river.Instream sand mining results in the destruction of aquatic and riparian habitat through large changes in the channel morphology. Impacts include bed degradation, bed coarsening, lowered water tables near the streambed, and channel instability. These physical impacts cause degradation of riparian and aquatic biota and may lead to the undermining of bridges and other structures. Continued extraction may also cause the entire streambed to degrade to the depth of excavation.Sand mining generates extra vehicle traffic, which negatively impairs the environment. Where access roads cross riparian areas, the local environment may be impacted.

These wastes have not been managed properly, and thereby pose many environmental and human health risks for all Sierra Leoneans. Garbage block storm drains creating breeding sites for malaria. This could be a primary cause for the rapid increase of the disease and its effect on the lives of the children. The city suffered from a corresponding increase in the rate of generated waste which has very little management facilities. Piles of garbage can be seen everywhere in Freetown as most of the drains are clogged with garbage. Various streams of waste are generated and these are categorized as residential, institutional, industrial, commercial, and agriculture. These wastes have not been managed properly, and thereby pose many environmental and human health risks for all Sierra Leoneans. Garbage block storm drains creating breeding sites for malaria. This could be a primary cause for the rapid increase of the disease and its effect on the lives of the children. Successful waste management depends on an efficient operational system. This however, has not been the case with the Sierra Leone waste management system.

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