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Capetonians near local wine farms may be at risk over pesticides and herbicides

Cape Town residents located near wine farms may be exposed to health risks associated with the use of pesticides containing carcinogenic chemicals on local crops.

Kieno Kammies investigated this matter, speaking with Professor Leslie London at UCT Public Health Department and Alan Winde, MEC for Agriculture, Economic Development and Tourism.

London conducted a study into the health risks faced by teachers and pupils at a school located near a well-known Durbanville wine farm.

We surveyed the school for evidence of contamination from pesticides being used by nearby wine farms. It was pretty clear that there was drift from the farms into the school. They did not exceed our health limits, but we don't know what is really safe. It very hard to control the drift of pesticides.

Professor Leslie London, UCT Public Health Department

According to London, there is a lot more to be done in terms of the regulation of pesticides and agricultural production - specifically preventing long term health effects.

Winde says that local government needs to keep improving legislation to adapt with agricultural developments and health classifications.

He encourages Capetonians to seek medical advice on their health concerns and for wine-farmers to invest in green technology.

Listen to the full conversation from CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:

Kieno had previously spoken with a doctor who preferred to stay anonymous and Albe Albertyn, former school Directress at the school in question.

Albertyn says she developed a chronic cough during her time at the school. She was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, but a specialist physician found that she had inflammation in both of her lungs - with a foreign substance in the base of both lungs.

We had X-rays taken and we found that it wasn't a lung infection, but rather an inflammation. You could see that I had this odd sediment in the base of both of my lungs. I tested negative for all possible allergies. The moment I removed myself from the environment, all my symptoms cleared up. There were children and other teachers who were sick as well.

Albe Albertyn, former school Directress

The anonymous doctor, who treated Albertyn and other patients, says that some of the poisonous sprays used by wine-farmers effect individuals differently based on their genetics.

According to the doctor, the pesticide laws in South Africa (written in 1947) are archaic and need to be updated to protect citizens from further harm.

Listen to the full conversation from CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:


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