Call for stiffer burning penalties
The Asthma Association of Barbados is pushing for stiff penalties against people who burn stuff indiscriminately.
The call comes as at least two heads of primary schools lament that it is affecting teaching and even causing early closures.
President of the association Rosita Pollard made the call yesterday while at the Ellerton Primary School in St George in celebration of World Asthma Day.
“We want the Government to bring legislation into place to ban this burning; that is what they need to do. They brought the cell phone ban while driving, and smoking in public places. Well, they need to bring this one, too, because it’s affecting people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses,” she said.
Ahead of the association’s visit yesterday, Ellerton principal Donna Allman told the DAILY NATION they had been affected severely by smoke just after classes began.
“Up to this morning, some classes had to be evacuated because children were affected by the inhalation of smoke. Because some are also affected by asthma, it cuts into our teaching time. So I’d like our residents to stop burning unnecessarily so we can utilise our time wisely,” she said.
At Ellerton, there are 210 students, with 50 of them asthmatic.
Reynold Weekes Primary principal Anderson Bishop said a similar situation occurred twice during the first week of school. The St Philip school has 400 students, with 100 asthmatic.
“When the school is impacted by smoke, we try to find safer locations, such as the information technology room, which is air-conditioned. But when it’s more severe, we have to effect an evacuation to a safe location at the Seventh-Day Adventist School at Six Roads. But last week when the school was engulfed, we could not [use] that location because the church was also impacted, so we had to end school early,” he said.
Retired paediatrician and allergist, Dr Vincent Hutchinson, was at both schools to give advice to students and teachers.
He highlighted negatives of the smoke, which he said could trigger sudden acute attacks and long-term effects, such as a build-up of inflammation in the bronchial tube, which could cause chronic problems.
Hutchinson, chairman of the Caribbean American Medical and Scientific Association, said symptoms of an attack included tightness of the chest – when it became difficult to get air in or out of the lungs – wheezing and coughing.
“Sometimes asthma can be under-treated, or people don’t get preventative treatment to prevent asthma attacks and some wait too late, so by the time they get very bad it’s too, too late. But asthma is a serious disease and that is what we try to convey to patients, and if you don’t control your asthma, there is a risk of death,” he added. (TG)