Janice Beckett
2 minute read
6 Sep 2017
3:47 pm

The air is toxic beyond measure for Riverlea residents

Janice Beckett

Research has found that many residents of Riverlea are living on oxygen machines.

Rose Plaatjies prepares other medication to help her breathe better.

A new study released by the Bench Marks Foundation has found that communities living in the shadows of Johannesburg’s infamous mine dumps are at greater risk of respiratory illnesses than those of the city’s northern suburbs, Westside Eldos reports.

The research found that many residents of Riverlea are living on oxygen machines. More than half (56.1%) of residents identified respiratory ailments (a cough, sinus, asthma, and TB) as their most persistent ailment and 4% of respondents also reported eye problems.

Bench Marks said that the respiratory problems may be associated with dust from the surrounding mine operations and tailings, asbestos roofing and/or smoking.

However, 92% of the respondents believed their health problems were caused by the surrounding mines.

Rose Plaatjies, 63, lives with a condition where both lungs are not functioning.

“I was a chronic patient who was visiting the hospital every month until I ended up in hospital in 2009. I was unconscious for four days because my brain was not getting enough oxygen and the doctors decided that I couldn’t work anymore. I need to be on the machine. I was getting very tired so my heart was working harder because of my lungs not functioning,” said Plaatjies.

The oxygen machine which Rose Plaatjies needs to be on for 16 hours.

The oxygen machine which Rose Plaatjies needs to be on for 16 hours.

READ MORE: EnviroServ CEO to be charged for ‘toxic’ Shongweni landfill

The hospital provided her with the breathing apparatus.

“You just put the water in and the pump and then there’s a sponge at the back that filters the air so that you can breathe in clean air. If you can see the sponge you will be shocked at what air we are inhaling, you’ll see how toxic this place is,” she said.

According to Plaatjies, if you live near the mine dumps it doesn’t just start affecting you immediately, it builds up over the years. She stated that if a person lived in Riverlea, they would eventually suffer from a respiratory disease.

The Mooifontein mine dump in Riverlea.

The Mooifontein mine dump in Riverlea.

“My sister coughs 24/7 and the doctors can’t find out why she’s coughing like that. They conducted tests and have diagnosed her with asthma,” said Plaatjies.

She is now one of the victims of the mine dust and needs to be on the oxygen machine for 16 hours a day.

Her biggest concern is that no one wants to be held accountable for it, the government doesn’t want to know that they placed residents in a place that is toxic beyond measure.

READ MORE

EnviroServ CEO to be charged for ‘toxic’ Shongweni landfill

– Caxton News Service

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