The current risk of asbestos exposure to the citizens of the Prieska area, Northern Cape Province in South Africa
The objective of this study was to determine the current risk of asbestos exposure to the citizens of the Prieska area, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. The extraction of asbestos ceased a long time ago, but the people of Prieska and the surrounding townships are still working and living in a much polluted environment. Today numerous people have asbestos-related diseases, and many may still be diagnosed. In order to address the health risk, the need for rehabilitation of these areas has to be quantified. In order to achieve the objective of the study, the following sub-questions were formulated: a. What are the exact levels of asbestos contamination in Prieska? b. How big is the risk of exposure due to asbestos contamination of the environment in Prieska? c. Can the need for rehabilitation be prioritised? The study area was divided into 4 sub-areas: Rooiblok, Ethembeni, Bontheuwel and the town of Prieska. The levels of asbestos contamination in the Prieska area were determined, and the risk of exposure for the citizens was quantified. Results have shown that the stands in each sub-area could be prioritised. Stands that were open fields have a lower need for rehabilitation because no people live there and therefore the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres is limited. There were also other stands that weren't open fields, but had a lower Asbestos Prioritisation Index (API), because the buildings were in a good condition, the fibres were fixed, or otherwise no asbestos fibres were extracted from the samples. The overall API for the 4 sub-areas were compared to each other. Rooiblok and Ethembeni had the highest need for rehabilitation, then the town of Prieska, and the lowest was Bontheuwel. The results were clear on the Geographic Information Systems (GIs) and could therefore assist in prioritising areas in Prieska with regard to their need for rehabilitation.