Air pollution is defined as harmful, toxic or excessive quantities of substances including particulates, gases and biological molecules that are released in our atmosphere. An air pollutant can be classified as a material in the air that can have unfavourable effects on humans and the ecosystem. Health effects such as allergies, diseases and death can occur. Two of the world’s worst toxic pollution problems are indoor air pollution and poor urban air quality.

An enormous amount of ambient air quality monitoring is conducted in South Africa by a wide range of monitoring agencies. These agencies use a broad range of monitoring methodologies and approaches (DEA 2011a). These monitoring campaigns are also been driven by the implementation of the NEM:AQA.

The most commonly monitored pollutants are sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and particulate matter (ambient PM10 and PM2.5). The other pollutants measured include lead, carbon monoxide, total suspended particles (TSPs), VOCs, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene components (BTEX), hydrogen sulphide, and total reduced sulphur (TRS).

The direct and indirect effects of air pollution have an impact across the country and a growing concern is the rising level of air pollution, mainly from industrial emissions, domestic use of wood, paraffin, coal, biomass burning and energy production and vehicle exhaust emissions. Other sources of air pollution in the country include airports, waste treatment facilities such as wastewater treatment works and landfill sites as they are also associated with greenhouse gas emissions.

Interesting facts on Air Pollution:

  • Inhaling air pollution by an average human being takes away minimum 1-2 years of a typical human life;
  • The European Union paid an enormous amount of €161 billion due to deaths caused by air pollution;
  • Beijing has brought a new disease due to the rising levels of air pollution called:  Beijing cough;
  • Pollutants that are released from the air is the most hazardous and less from the land and water together;
  • In India air pollution causes 527, 700 deaths every year;
  • By 2050, 6 million people will die per year due to air pollution; and
  • The risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma and bronchitis are much higher for people living near high traffic roads, as these places contain more concentrated levels of air pollution
According to UNEP 2002, ambient air quality can be described as the physical and chemical measurements of pollutant concentrations in the ambient atmosphere to which the general population will be exposed to in a certain time period.).

Therefore, should the ambient air quality measured be in excess of these limits, action could be required by the company to reduce the volume of the generators. ENVASS can conduct various environmental air quality studies and provides pertinent results in regards to the relevant compliance limits. Should these limits be exceeded, ENVASS provides mitigation measures to ensure that communities are protected from excessive air pollution. As human beings, we can contribute to human happiness and peace by following multiple simple steps. Riding a cycle instead of using public transport, burning less wood or coal on a barbeque etc. These are simple steps to create a prosperous environment for the future. Let us all contribute and do some act of heroism to make this country and world a healthier and safe environment.

If ever you may require a proposal for professionally registered scientists to conduct compliance monitoring, including specialist studies, please do not hesitate to contact ENVASS at , or call us on 012 460 9768.

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