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Nutritional value of food crops deface as ozone layer depletes

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Sat, 18 Sep 2021 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Correspondence from Eastern Region:

Environmental protection experts are worried that Ghanaians may be consuming foods that might have lost their nutritional values due to the gradual depletion of the ozone layer.

The fear is that the seeming increase in the consumption of ozone-depleting substances(ODSs) like R22 (i.e. hydrochlorofluorocarbons) refrigerants in certain air-conditioners among others are contributing highly to the depletion of the ozone layer which eventually comes to affect the nutritional quality of some foods.

In an interview with the Director-in-charge of Climate Change and Ozone Department at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Emmanuel Osae-Danquah, at Effiduase on the sidelines of the World Ozone Day celebration, he said foods like rice, millet, sorghum and soybean among other cereals are likely to be affected by the ozone layer depletion.

Dr. Osae-Danquah stated that as the increased doses of the ozone depletion substances (ODSs) break the ozone layer, it allows the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to have direct access to the environment and subsequently kills the nutritional quality of such food crops which are massively being consumed by Ghanaians, especially children.

Government has indicated that locally produced rice and other food items should be used in all schools under the National School Feeding Programme with the aim of feeding pupils one nutritious meal a day. Rice and millet play a major role in this nutritious meal preparation for school children.

However, according to Dr. Osae-Danquah, the UVB rays, which have higher energy levels and are supposed to have shorter wavelengths now seem to be having longer wavelengths and penetrating through the ozone layer and having dangerous effects on humans and what they eat.

“Ozone layer depletion cuts across many sectors, we have environmental effects, we have human effects and we have effects on materials; and when we talk of nutrition we are saying that when the ozone is depleted, it allows more of the UVB radiation to seep through.

“And if that happens, it impacts negatively on the quality, that is the nutritional value of crops, particularly crops like soybean, sorghum, rice and the likes,” he said.

Dr. Osae-Danquah stressed that “for as long as we have increased the incidence of UBV, research has established that the increased doses affects the nutritional quality of the crops that I have mentioned.”

He appealed to Ghanaians to do away with the consumption and use of ozone depletion chemicals, adding that equipment and other items that use ozone depleting substances should be discouraged and that “once they are discouraged and the virgin refrigerant and chemicals don’t come in (to Ghana), then we can be phasing out the chemicals and the products as well; and then we can have a healthy environment.”

The Environmental expert particularly called on Assembly members to take interest in educating their residents including local refrigeration technicians to be circumspect about the usage and disposal of ozone-depleting substances.

Asked what the EPA on the part of the government of Ghana is doing to address this challenge of increasing usage of ODSs, Dr. Osae-Danquah said, “We are implementing a quota system, thereby reducing the volume of virgin refrigerants that come to service this equipment; and now it has become very necessary that we cut down substantially on what originally we allow to come inside (Ghana).”

“So, by the close of the year (2021) the R22 is going to undergo continued restricted supply. So, those who use these refrigerants in their equipment should also take note. We are not only going to control the refrigerants, but the equipment itself that comes into the country, we are also going to subject that to a quota regime because we have an obligation to meet.

“By 2030, we should phase out the importation of air conditioners that run on R22. So the public should be aware and make informed choices,” he disclosed.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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