The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has directed casket makers along the Mortuary Road, near the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, to obtain permits from the agency and the relevant local assemblies to protect the environment and public health.
The EPA said the activities of the casket makers were having negative impact on the environment and public health.
The production of the caskets involves the spraying of chemicals, including petroleum products that contain benzene, a hazardous chemical.
The acting Director, Environmental Quality of the EPA, Mr Emmanuel K.E. Appoh, at a sensitisation exercise with executive members of the Korle Bu Coffin Makers Association in Accra, said the permits would make them to understand the risks and hazards of their job, and enable them to take measures to mitigate such conditions.
He explained that some of the chemicals used by the artisans may have adverse effects on their lungs and cause other serious health problems.
“The prolonged inhalation of benzine and other chemicals tend to constrict the breathing valve ways, affect the trachea, turn recurring in the bloodstream,” Mr Appoh said.
He noted that the pollutants also contained lead, which may cause lung cancer and reduce one’s lifespan.
Mr Appoh said the pollutants could affect the learning abilities and intelligence of children who lived in the community and urged the artisans to take measures to protect themselves and others.
The Secretary of the association, Nii Lante Lamptey, thanked the EPA for the concern about their health and the environment.
He appealed to the authorities to assist them to get a more suitable space to enable them to continue with their work.
He said the association, made up of 60 members, would comply with the advice by the EPA.
Mr Appoh and his team later visited some car sprayers to sensitise them on the dangers of the chemicals they use for spraying.