Lionel Michael: Education needed on dangers of rotting sargassum

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There are dangers associated with breathing in and being in close proximity to hydrogen sulfide which is emitted from rotting sargassum seaweed.
That’s according to the former Chief Health Inspector, Lionel Michael, who said people in the twin island need to be educated about the issues associated with the current seaweed-phenomenon.
Coastlines around the islands have been overwhelmed with the brown floating seaweed that washes ashore, covering once pristine beaches and driving away beach users and sea activities with its stench and mass..
Hoteliers, the government and private residents are working to remove the seaweed that attracts flies and other scavengers but this has not been very efficient because the seaweed is coming in faster than it can be removed. Michael said the fumes emitting from the decaying seaweed is not good for the health and can be corrosive to appliances and silverware.
“I would imagine that the fisheries department and the environment department would be out there educating people about the sargassum and engage the people on how best [they] can clean it up. It is very bad throughout the Caribbean. It is having an economic impact, tourism is affected and so is people’s health,” he told OBSERVER media.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Hydrogen sulfide is a colourless, highly flammable and explosive gas produced naturally by decaying organic matter and has a characteristic smell of rotten-egg.
Prolonged exposure may cause nausea, teary eyes, headaches or loss of sleep and some asthma patients encountered airway problems such as bronchial constriction.
Some people exposed to the gas complained of fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, poor memory, dizziness, slight conjunctivitis and respiratory tract irritation.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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