Seek medical attention if you have been exposed to high levels of Riverton smoke

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The people of the Corporate Area and parts of St. Catherine and Clarendon have been exposed for the past several days to the cancer causing chemical, benzene.

Ministry of Health is urging those persons exposed to significant levels of smoke from the fire at the Riverton City Dump to seek medical attention. The advice from the Health Ministry follows test results which show that record levels of benzene and other dangerous pollutants, were released from the fire into the atmosphere over the Jamaican capital and its environs.

For days many persons have been wondering just how dangerous are the substances released into the atmosphere over capital city Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine and parts of Clarendon by the fire at the dump.

The statement confirmed our worst fears. Almost half of the Jamaican population has been exposed to the dangerous cancer causing substance benzene over the past 10 days and counting.The Health Ministry noted that prolonged or long term exposure to benzene has been blamed for causing cancers, including leukemia.

According to Permanent Secretary, Dr. Kevin Harvey, those who were severely affected by smoke from the dump should seek medical attention. He emphasised that Benzene is a dangerous substance.

According to Dr. Harvey the US Centre for Disease Control says a person deemed to have long term exposure to benzene is someone who has been affected for over 1-year.

The latest of a number of fires which have taken place at the dump for more than 25 years, has been ongoing for nearly two weeks.

Dr. Harvey says the finding regarding the air quality is considered a major public health issue.