New Providence
Nassau doctor warns that ‘Indoor air quality 100 x more potent than outdoor’
By Save The Bays
Mar 20, 2017 - 2:01:45 AM

Surprising symptoms – Dr. Arlington Lightbourne, centre, appeared on Voice of The Bays, The Environment Speaks on Love 97.5, revealing surprising, lesser-known health effects as a result of fumes and toxins of the Nassau dump fire, including endocrine disrupters that affect mood, hormonal cycles and energy levels and can cause dizziness and brain fog. The show, which moves to 4-5pm on Wednesdays starting March 22 is part of the education outreach of Save the Bays and is hosted by Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville and guest co-host Diane Phillips.

Ten days after a blazing fire erupted at the Harrold Road dump in Nassau smothering land and air with billowing, acrid black smoke, a leading physician urged residents displaced by the fire and its aftermath to stay away as long as they can, or ensure that their homes are hazmat cleaned and declared safe by independent analysts.

“This is a public health crisis, there is no other way to put it,” said Dr. Arlington Lightbourne, founder of The Wellness Clinic, Collins Avenue. “What people are continuing to experience outside depending on wind direction is very frightening and we may not know the connection between the fire and chronic diseases that will present in 20 years.

“But I am even more concerned about the indoor air quality. When you have a house with a closed vacuum system, which is pretty much the way most of us live nowadays unlike our grandparents whose cottages allowed air to flow through, the result of inhaling toxic fumes is way more dangerous.”

The ash, soot, smoke are the visible, tangible components of an invisible, silent threat that can be deadly, seeping in through the pores of skin, the largest organ of the body, and through lungs, nostrils, mouth. Known carcinogens from burning of plastic, metal, old appliances, garbage, plastic bags and bottles, papers, car parts, rubber tires combine to create a deadly cocktail ingested through nearly every bodily orifice. There is, he said, no escaping it in a closed environment unless every surface, curtain, upholstered furniture has been scrubbed and freed of the remnants of lingering poisons.      

“Indoor air quality is up to 100 times more potent than outdoor,” said Dr. Lightbourne.

Dr. Lightbourne was a guest on the radio show, Voice of The Bays, The Environment Speaks, on Love 97.5 March 15. The weekly show that focuses on the environment is a community outreach effort by the education arm of Save The Bays, the outspoken environmental organization that has joined with thousands urging immediate remediation from the dump fire and long-term solutions that include a proper landfill, recycling and composting.

“Every human being has the fundamental right to breathe clean air,” said host Joseph Darville, Save The Bays Chairman. “We are not pointing the finger at this government or any government. This is a very serious problem that has been going on for more than 40 years and it has never been properly addressed and now these poor people who live nearby are suffering because of that ongoing neglect.”

According to Dr. Lightbourne, while some symptoms are associated with fire – headaches, dizziness, sore throat – many are not. Among them, he said, are fatigue, mood changes, even menstrual and hormonal changes.

“Toxins and carcinogens are endocrine disrupters,” he said. “The chemicals interfere with the way our organs function.”

Tracing the effects, though, Darville and Lightbourne agreed, cannot be accomplished unless a health registry is created.

“If you want bragging rights,” said Dr. Lightbourne, “fix this issue.”

Darville has gone on record pleading with the government to look at Grand Bahama’s landfill as an example.

““You could have a picnic there and it is 100% managed and operated by Bahamians. In fact, we take our environmental students there every time we host the series just so they can see a proper landfill,” said Darville.

In addition to the one-hour weekly radio show that moves to 4 pm starting March 22, Save The Bays’ educational outreach includes the Youth Environment Ambassadors program in Grand Bahama, a six week series of academic and hands-on experiences whose graduates earn certification in environmental leadership and stewardship.  

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