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2010 Upper Olifants Project

The Upper Olifants Human Health Risk Assessment Project was a CSIR project that aimed to pre-empt questions about human health in an area affected by water and air pollution that led to wildlife deaths. The overall aim of this project was to determine the impacts of current environmental pollution levels on human health within a pollution hotspot in the Upper Olifants River Water Management Catchment Area. The area is situated alongside the Brugspruit and incorporates the communities of Vosman, KwaGuqa Extensions 4 and 5 and Empumelelweni. The intended research benefits related to relevant, scientific evidence to be applied in decision-making and management. The over-arching aim was to develop a briefing note to Parliament to alert them of human health risks posed by environmental pollution in a known hotspot area.

Through implementation of this research project and dissemination of its results, awareness was raised among the community, local leaders and other stakeholders. Moreover, important risk factors were identified to motivate for appropriate intervention at individual, community and policy scales. In this way, the CSIR has alerted local authorities and Parliament to the risks posed by environmental pollution, particularly water pollution, to community health in heavily polluted areas. The first step to tackling the societal problem of balancing human health, development and the environment has been made by providing empirical scientific evidence that risks are probable and appropriate intervention is required.

Download the briefing note