Smoke a big health risk (IT MATTERS TO MARIA)
THE?INCONSIDERATE?burning of garbage in their neighbourhood has taken a toll on Sylvan and Sheena Weekes who are parents of two young asthmatic children.
After enduring a frightening episode last year when their then eight-month-old baby had to be taken to hospital for several days, due to the effects of smoke inhalation, the young couple say they have reached the end of their tolerance level and have decided to publicly speak out against the life-threatening practice.
The couple live in a small district at Featherbed Lane, St John, and for the past two years they have been back and forth at the polyclinic and the hospital because almost every day garbage is burnt in the neighbourhood.
“The whole house becomes full of smoke,” said Sheena, a stay-at-home mum. “It does not even make sense closing the windows because the smoke still comes in.”
The woman, who is also asthmatic and eight months pregnant with her third child, said she could not bear to have her newborn baby go through the same situation which her other children suffered.
“When I brought home Shaydon from the hospital in 2010, he was only ten days old when he started to wheeze.
I?took him to the paediatrician and she asked me what was going on in the environment where I was living.
“I explained to her that there was constant burning of garbage and she told me that was what was affecting my baby.”
Sheena said she has called in the police, the health inspectors as well as the fire department on numerous occasions. She has even contacted Minister of Health Donville Inniss, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and her Parliamentary Representative Mara Thompson, but she has got “nowhere”.
“The police told me all they can do is to warn the person who burns the garbage. The health inspector came out and told them that instead of burning the garbage to put it out for collection. They said that they did not have any bags to put the garbage in, so the health inspector came out and gave them garbage bags. That did not help.
“My husband has called over there and told them that if they are going to burn garbage to let us know so that we can leave the house. They have only notified us once and that day we left home and when we came back several hours later the area was still smoking.”
But Sheena pointed out that what has angered her into speaking out was when she called the police earlier this week when garbage was being burnt.
“The police went to the person who was burning the garbage and I?heard her saying that I was a liar and that me and my children did not have asthma and that my son was never hospitalized. I?could not believe what I was hearing.”
The distressed woman described the horrifying episode which her family went through when her son Shaydon was only eight months old following five continuous days of burning of garbage.
“He started wheezing and we took him to the polyclinic. He was transferred to the hospital and the nurses nebulised him six times that night. They took a metal swab and stuck it in his nostrils. It took three of us to hold him down so that they could take blood from him and he was hospitalized for five days.
The couple said they expect a backlash for publicly speaking out.
“We know that the situation will get worse but we have been very silent about this and it still continued,” Sheena stated, as she pointed out that relocation was not an option because they were paying a mortgage.
Wayne Poonka Willock, president of Citizens Against Burning, who is aware of the Weekes’ situation, has once again called for Government to enact legislation to criminalize the activity.
“There are people out there who have no consideration for others,” Willock noted. “And the firemen are telling people that they can burn garbage between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. as long as they do it in a can. Time is irrelevant, and they are encouraging this behaviour.”
While Willock applauded Inniss for recently speaking out about the negative practice, he called on the Attorney General to introduce the legislation as a matter of urgency.