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6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. Holness looks to Israel
  2. Ja fishermen stuck in Colombia
  3. $98m NWA drain cleaning programme
  4. Man arrested after drug bust
  5. Robust sports Town Hall meeting expected
  6. ‘Rock Star’ named as person of interest

1. Holness looks to Israel

Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, has signalled that his administration is open to establishing a framework for cooperation with Israel on national security issues such as cybersecurity. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. Ja fishermen stuck in Colombia

Twenty-eight Jamaican fishermen who are currently in San Andres, an island off the Colombian coast, are itching to return home after being rescued at sea last week. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

3. $98m NWA drain cleaning

The National Works Agency (NWA) says it is to undertake a $95.8 million disaster mitigation programme. The NWA says this is the second such drain cleaning programme implemented since the start of the 2018 hurricane season and is to be rolled out islandwide. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

4. Man arrested after drug bust

The police are reporting that a man was arrested during an operation on Kensington Crescent, St Andrew where they allegedly seized approximately 196 pounds of ganja and approximately one kilogramme of cocaine. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

5. Robust sports Town Hall meeting expected

Milton Walker, group head of news and sports for the RJRGLEANER Communications Group, expects a “robust and fruitful” discussion when the second edition of the RJRGLEANER Sports Town Hall debate takes place this evening at the Mico University College auditorium, starting at 8.30. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. ‘Rock Star’ named as person of interest

Detectives attached to the Morant Police Criminal Investigation Branch in St Thomas have listed Brandon McIntosh, otherwise called ‘Rock Star’, of Ivan Scheme, Duckenfield in the parish, as a Person of Interest. See full story on The Gleaner’s website. 

6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. 4.6 quake felt islandwide
  2. Crawford crates PNP euphoria
  3. Scandal bag ban, and more
  4. Security issue at Supreme Court building
  5. Avoid croc habitats during heavy rains -NEPA
  6. Mental health, suicide helpline established

1. 4.6 quake felt islandwide

Jamaicans in all but one parish reported yesterday that they felt a minor earthquake. In a statement yesterday, the Earthquake Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona, in St Andrew, confirmed that the island had experienced an earthquake around 1:47 p.m. The epicentre was located at approximately 4km east of Angels in St Catherine and had a magnitude of 4.6 in focal depth. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. Crawford creates PNP euphoria

Having had their fill of platform utterances, tailored political dubplates and rallying cries, the rain clouds that eventually burst over the National Arena in Kingston yesterday afternoon did little to dampen the euphoria of Comrades at the People’s National Party’s (PNP) 80th annual Conference. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

3. Scandal bag ban, and more …

The Government this morning announced bans on single-use plastic bags and straws as well as Styrofoam. The bans take effect on January 1, 2019. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

4. Security issue at Supreme Court building

This morning’s ceremonial opening of the Michaelmas Term of the Home Circuit Court at the Supreme Court building in downtown Kingston was disrupted by a security issue. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

5. Avoid croc habitats during heavy rains – NEPA

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is advising the public to exercise extreme caution in areas close to swamps, rivers, gullies and other known crocodile habitats, as the animals are likely to be displaced during the heavy rains. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. Mental health, suicide helpline established

A mental health/suicide helpline is to be established by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the non-governmental organisation Choose Life International (CLI) to provide support to persons in need of assistance. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

 

Jamaica’s Scandal Bag Ban Explained

The Government of Jamaica announced bans on single-use plastic bags and straws as well as Styrofoam, taking effect on January 1, 2019. Here are some details on what that means for producers and consumers.

Ban On Plastics Bags

* There will be a ban on the importation, manufacturing, distribution, and use of all single-use plastic carrier bags commonly called scandal bags.

* The ban applies to bags with dimensions at or below 24 inches by 24 inches.

* The ban excludes single-use plastic bags utilised to maintain public health or food safety standards such as those used to package raw meats, flour, rice, sugar and baked goods such as bread

*Manufacturers and importers of shopping bags made of polyethylene must apply to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) for limited exemptions. These applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis for continued manufacture and importation no later than January 1, 2021.

* Consumers are being encouraged to use reusable carrier bags, particularly by local enterprises.

Ban On Styrofoam

* The ban will apply to the importation of polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as Styrofoam, used as finished goods in the food and beverage industry i.e food and beverage containers.

* The local manufacture and distribution of polystyrene foam for use as finished goods in the food and beverage industry will be banned as at January 1, 2021.

* The use of polystyrene for the packaging of food items such as raw meats will be exempt.

* Producers of products which utilise such packaging must apply to NEPA for limited exemptions.

* Industry is encouraged to manufacture/distribute paper-based and other environmentally friendly alternatives for the domestic market.

Ban On Plastic Straws

* There will be a ban on the import and manufacture of plastic drinking straws.

* There will be no ban on wax-lined paper straws or other non-plastic straws.

* The importation of straws attached to lunch juice boxes and drink pouches will be banned as at January 1, 2021. This deadline was arrived at based on the Government’s discussions with the private sector regarding the timeframe for the conversion of existing equipment.

* For the medical sector as well as persons with disabilities, drinking straws made from alternative materials such as paper or bamboo are not always suitable. In light of this, exemptions will be examined in consultation with key stakeholders. Applications for such exemptions should be applied through the NEPA.

Procedures For Exemptions

* The guidelines for application for exemptions for the specific categories of plastic packaging materials will be developed by NEPA in consultation with the relevant public sector agencies. These Guidelines will be posted on the JIS and the Agency’s websites as well as circulated to the affected private sector stakeholders.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner

6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. Business Operators Near Three Miles Chide Gov’t For Downturn In Sales
  2. Almost Four Murders A Day So Far This Month
  3. Ski Mask Gang Resurfaces, As Concerns Heighten in Trelawny
  4. Three More Movies Set For Filming In Jamaica
  5. Less Optimism About Business Conditions
  6. 5 Questions With George Nooks – Reggae Singer Believes He Is Poised For Even More Musical Success

1. Business operators near Three Miles chide Gov’t for downturn in sales

With noticeably fewer customers turning out and observing sharp dips in earnings just five days into the planned eight-month closure of the Three Miles intersection, businesses operating within the proximity of the major crossroads are fearful that the full term might cripple their establishments. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. Almost four murders a day so far this month

Thirty-two persons were murdered across the island over the first eight days of this month, police statistics have revealed. At the same time, the latest Periodic Crime Statistics Review compiled by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) show that 99 murders were recorded in the 19 police divisions nationwide last month.

See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

 

3. Ski Mask gang resurfaces, as concern heightens in Trelawny

The Ski Mask gang, which was partially wiped out last March when six of its top-tier members were killed in a gunfight with a police-military patrol on the Trelawny-St James border, is back on the radar of lawmen and creating serious concerns. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

4. Three more movies set for filming in Jamaica

Film Commissioner Renee Robinson

The film Yardie, directed by British actor Idris Elba, climaxed with three Jamaicans engaged in a triangular shoot-out. That crime film was the latest in a series of projects shot on location which expended more than $1 billion in the economy last fiscal year.

See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

5. Less optimism about business conditions

Perceptions about present and future business conditions worsened during the last quarter as the proportion of persons who are less optimistic about the effect of the economy on individual businesses increases. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. 5 questions with George Nooks

George Nooks

The God is Standing By singer said that despite his legal troubles, his career has not been severely impacted as he is still able to do music. He also said that he has a plethora of bookings lined up. George Nooks released an album last month. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6 Findings From NEPA’s Air Quality Report On Riverton Fire 2018

Image from NEPA: RIVERTON FIRE AUGUST 2018 REPORT

It seems like a recurring conversation.

Fire at the Riverton dump.

We now have a fourth published report by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) into fires at the Riverton dump, relating to fires in 2012, 2014, 2015 and now 2018.

Here are six quick findings from the report,

1. There was a negative impact on the ambient air quality in Kingston and St. Andrew, as well as parts of St. Catherine, including Portmore and Spanish Town.

2. Forty six (46) pollutants were detected from the analyses conducted on VOC samples; thirty four (34) were detected above the lower concentration limit (0.2μg/m3).

The results of the analysis indicate higher than normal concentrations of benzene and toluene. The recorded benzene concentration was 41μg/m3 at the Spanish Town Road location. This is approximately 2.5 times the highest benzene concentration detected during the 2015 fire at the RSWDS (15.3μg/m3). The highest recorded concentration for toluene of 30μg/m3 was just over 2.5 times the 11.2μg/m3 concentration recorded during the 2015 fire at the RSWDS.

Benzene? Learn, more about the bad things that happen when benzene is in the air.

Toluene? Learn, more about the why toluene is bad for you here.

Fire raging at the Riverton City Dump in St Andrew, Image courtesy of the Jamaica Star http://jamaica-star.com/article/news/20180729/riverton-fire-again

3. The WHO 24-hour limit (25μg/m3) for PM2.5 was exceeded. The highest average daily concentration of PM2.5 (40.58 μg/m3) recorded at the Spanish Town, St. Catherine monitoring station during the period under review was on day three of the fire. The WHO 24-hour guideline limit for PM2.5 was also exceeded at the Duhaney Park monitoring location. The highest recorded concentration was 43.28μg/m3 on August 3, 2018.

What is PM2.5? Why is it bad for you? Read more about it here.

4. Seven (7) exceedances of the 1-hour NO2 guideline limit were observed over the period on August 4 and 5, 2018. The highest recorded NO2 concentration was 730.2μg/m3 on August 4, 2018.

NO2? Say no to NO2, read more about why this gas is bad for you here.

5. Results indicate possible health impact especially to sensitive groups.

6. Results of the monitoring also indicated impact on air quality as a result of the Saharan Dust thereby increasing the recorded particulate matter concentrations.

See more… 5 Findings From NEPA’s Air Quality Report On The Riverton Fire (2015)

Content Provided by: Mdk Advisory & Consulting Ltd., a strategic advisory firm offering a wide range of services to a cross-section of clients in the private, public and non-profit sectors

 

Effects of NO2 – Nitrogen Dioxide

What is NO2?

Nitrogen Dioxide, or NO2 is only one of a dangerous family of gases known as Nitrogen Oxides or NOx.

NO2 gets in the air from burning fuel. Generally, the combustion of fuel coming from cars, buses, trucks, power plants and heavy equipment.

The WHO states that “At short-term (one hour), concentrations exceeding 200 μg/m, it is a toxic gas which causes significant inflammation of the airways.”. Unfortunately, the NEPA Report points out that the “NRCA guideline limit of 400μg/m3” which is twice the WHO limit.

During the Riverton Fire of 2018, short term concentration of NO2 was recorded at 730.2μg/m3 – multiple times higher than the WHO limit, but only 88% higher than Jamaican guidelines.

Effects of NO2

Breathing air with a high concentration of NO2 can have the following effects:

  • irritate airways in the human respiratory system.
  • aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma,
  • leading to respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing, hospital admissions and visits to emergency rooms.
  • Longer exposures to elevated concentrations of NO2 may contribute to the development of asthma and potentially increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.
  • People with asthma, as well as children and the elderly are generally at greater risk for the health effects of NO2

Content Provided by: Mdk Advisory & Consulting Ltd., a strategic advisory firm offering a wide range of services to a cross-section of clients in the private, public and non-profit sectors

What is PM2.5? Will it affect me?

What is PM2.5?

PM is an abbreviation for Particulate Matter. Basically, Particulate Matter or PM is a mix of all the solid and liquid “stuff” in the air. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay way up in the air, it eventually makes its way down to the ground and sometimes into our lungs and can affect us really badly.

PM is a mixture of natural “stuff” and man-made “stuff”. Some examples are dust, soot and sea spray. PM is given off during the combustion of solid and liquid fuels for the generation of power, and in your vehicle’s engine.

PM can vary in size, and for many years in Jamaica, NEPA has studied PM10 – particulate matter around 10 micrometres. The agency has spent time, money and training on setting up sites to study PM2.5 so that Jamaica can have a better understanding of its particulate matter. Such study is critical as “WHO Air Quality Guidelines” estimate that reducing annual average fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations from levels of 35 μg/m3, common in many developing cities, to the WHO guideline level of 10 μg/m3, could reduce air pollution-related deaths by around 15%.

As the name implies, PM2.5 looks at particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diametre. If you want look at a ruler, then look for a millimetre – then try and find 1/400th of 1 millimetre – and thats what PM2.5 looks like.

Will It Affect YOU? YES!!

During the Riverton Fire 2018, NEPA Reported that:

  1. “The levels of PM2.5 recorded were above the WHO 24-hour guideline limit (25μg/m3) for PM2.5.
  2. The highest average daily concentration of PM2.5 (40.58 μg/m3) recorded at the Spanish Town monitoring station was on day 3 of the fire, Tuesday, August 31 2018.
  3. This was 62% higher than the WHO guideline limit and is expected to have a negative impact on the population.
  4. At the Duhaney Park monitoring location, PM2.5 concentrations above the WHO 24-hour guideline limit was also recorded.
  5. The highest recorded concentration (43.28 μg/m3) was 73% above the WHO Guideline Limit for PM2.5.”

Effects of Acute Exposure

  • Exposure to high concentrations of PM (e.g. during short-term pollution episodes) exacerbate lung and heart conditions, significantly affecting quality of life, and increase deaths and hospital admissions.
  • Children, the elderly and those with predisposed respiratory and cardiovascular disease, are known to be more susceptible to the health impacts from air pollution.

Effect of Long-Term Exposure

  • WHO estimates that in 2016, some 58% of outdoor air pollution-related premature deaths were due to ischaemic heart disease and strokes, while 18% of deaths were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute lower respiratory infections respectively, and 6% of deaths were due to lung cancer.

Read more here and here.

Content Provided by: Mdk Advisory & Consulting Ltd., a strategic advisory firm offering a wide range of services to a cross-section of clients in the private, public and non-profit sectors

Effects Of Toluene Exposure

What is Toluene? Toluene has a variety of uses:

  • Added to gasolene to improve the octane rating
  • To produce benzene
  • As a solvent in paints,coatings, adhesives, inks and cleaning agents
  • In the production of polymers to make plastic bottles
  • In the production of polyurethanes to make pharmaceuticals, dyes and cosmetic nail products.

Following up on the NEPA Report on Riverton 2018, here are 4 quick points on Toluene exposure. Toluene was found to be at a high level during the fire.

NEPA does not track Toluene as part of the NRCA (Air Quality) Regulations 2006, however “According to the WHO Air Quality Guideline for Europe (World Health Organization, 2000), mean ambient air concentrations of toluene in urban air are in the range 5–150 μg/m3. Concentrations may be higher close to industrial emission sources.”.

Unfortunately, Riverton is situated adjacent to both industrial AND residential areas.

From the NEPA Report: “The highest recorded concentration for toluene of 30μg/m3 was just over 2½ times the 11.2μg/m3 concentration recorded during the 2015 fire at the RSWDS. It should be noted that the 2015 fire was considerably larger (8 acres versus 60 acres), hence it is of concern that the toluene levels are considerably higher.”.

So although the level of Toluene might have been acceptable in an industrial area, it was totally unacceptable in a residential area. These findings give credibility to calls for the dump to be relocated.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States of America gives some guidelines to toluene stating: “Levels of toluene measured in rural, urban, and indoor air averaged 1.3, 10.8, and 31.5 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3), respectively.” The 31.5micrograms per cubic meter represents industrial working areas, according to

The CDC then discusses the following effects from exposure:

1. Acute exposure to toluene may cause narcosis and central nervous system dysfunction (which has symptoms including)
  • fatigue
  • sleepiness
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • loss of conciousness
  • cardiac arrhythmia
  • At higher levels of exposure death has been known to occur

2. Continuous exposure to toluene at high levels (much greater than 30μg/m3) has resulted in depression of the Central Nervous System. Symptoms include:

  • drowsiness
  • ataxia
  • tremors
  • cerebral atrophy
  • nystagmus (involuntary eye movements)
  • impaired speech, hearing, and vision.

3. Chronic inhalation exposure to toluene causes irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, sore throat, dizziness, headache, and difficulty with sleep.

4. CNS dysfunction, attention deficits, minor craniofacial and limb anomalies, and developmental delay were observed in the children of pregnant women exposed to toluene or to mixed solvents during solvent abuse. This point is not represented as a fact as the studies that gave these results were confounded by exposure to multiple chemicals.

Read more about Toluene from the EPA here,  the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the WHO.

Content Provided by: Mdk Advisory & Consulting Ltd., a strategic advisory firm offering a wide range of services to a cross-section of clients in the private, public and non-profit sectors

 

 

 

Effects Of Benzene Exposure

Following up on the NEPA Report on Riverton 2018, here are 4 quick facts on Benzene exposure. Benzene was found to be at high level during the fire.

According to the NEPA Report, “The guideline concentration for benzene in ambient air as stated in the NRCA (Air Quality) Regulations 2006 is 1μg/m3 annually. This indicates that the benzene concentrations during the fire were 40 times more than the recommended annual exposure limit.”

Interestingly, from the WHO: “No specific guideline value has been developed for air. Benzene is carcinogenic to humans, and no safe level of exposure can be recommended.” and “The geometric mean of the range of estimates of the excess lifetime risk of leukaemia at an air concentration of 1 μg/m3 is 6 × 10–6. The concentrations of airborne benzene associated with an excess lifetime risk of 1/10 000, 1/100 000 and 1/1 000 000 are, respectively, 17, 1.7 and 0.17 μg/m3.”.

The World Health Organization states the following effects from exposure:

1. Acute exposure to benzene may cause narcosis (which has symptoms including)
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • tremors
  • loss of conciousness
  • All of these symptoms are worsened with the use of alcohol
  • moderate eye and skin irritant

2. Continuous exposure to benzene is a well established cause of cancer, specifically various kinds of leukemia and a higher rate of mortality from leukemia.

3. Reduces the production of both red and white blood cells from bone marrow in humans, resulting in aplastic anaemia.

4. Both B-cell proliferation and T-cell proliferation are reduced by benzene. Decreased host resistance to infection has been reported in several laboratory animals exposed to benzene.

Read more about Benzene from the WHO here and here.

 

 

 

6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. NESOL messy affair
  2. Easton Douglas to get state funeral
  3. Large fire at Duke, Sutton intersection in Downton Kgn
  4. Southern highway project first phase to begin soon
  5. Reid orders search for booted Calabar 11
  6. Prof Dale Webber making his mark

1. NESOL messy affair

As Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) continues its probe of the operations of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy, technocrats struggled to provide details about the $60-million verbal contract issued to Peak Energy Solutions, whose sole shareholder was Constantine Gordon, the former general manager of Nationwide News Network (NNN). See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. Easton Douglas to get state funeral

Former Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament Easton Douglas, OJ, CD, is to be accorded an Official Funeral by the Government. This was disclosed by Minister of Information Senator Ruel Reid at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday.

See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

3. Large fire at Duke, Sutton intersection in Downtown Kgn

Firefighters are now battling a blaze at the house and business place located intersection of Duke and Sutton Streets in downtown, Kingston. Roads have been cordoned off. At least three families, including seven children, have been left homeless. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

4. Southern highway project first phase to begin soon

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz has indicated that work on the Morant Bay to Port Antonio leg of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project is to begin soon. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

Ruel Reid

5. Reid orders search for booted Calabar 11

THE MINISTRY of Education is seeking to find 11 of the more than 30 students who were barred from entering fifth form at Calabar High School in St Andrew at the start of the new school year. The students were denied places in Calabar after they failed to attain averages of 60 per cent or above despite interventions from the leadership of the school. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. Prof Dale Webber making mark

IN ONLY a few weeks’ time, Professor Dale Webber, principal of the University of the West Indies, respected marine scientist and a man who has long given his time to public service, is to be honoured nationally. He will receive the Order of Distinction in the rank of commander for outstanding contribution to environmental conservation, and he never saw it coming – despite his years of teaching, research and volunteerism. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

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