Edendale's smog-buster

2008-10-24 00:00

Industries around Edendale that have repeatedly polluted the atmosphere over the years should get their house in order fast and ensure that they comply with air quality regulations, or they will face prosecution.

This comes after the Msunduzi Municipality installed a new air quality monitoring station valued at about R1 million in Edendale.

The equipment is situated in Herchensonn Road close to several industries and the Peace Valley residential area.

The new equipment will assist the municipality’s air quality team, part of the environmental health unit, in assessing the status of air quality in the area and regulating industries, businesses and institutions.

“Air pollution and general air quality are issues very much in public view now. We are regulating and liaising with industries about their emissions and helping them to draw up air quality reduction and environmental management plans. We will prosecute accordingly those industries that fail to co-operate and comply with the requirements and standards in the applicable legislation,” said Clive Anthony, the Msunduzi Municipality’s pollution control co-ordinator and air quality officer.

Anthony and his team are responsible for monitoring air quality in the city. He said that the new real-time monitoring station comprises a monitor which measures volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene (C6H6), toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene (BTEX), and an analyser that monitors sulphur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) (see The Witness website for details).

“It also contains meteorological equipment that measures wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure and rain-fall. This equipment is necessary because air quality is a dynamic phenomenon that changes constantly. It is affected not only by emission sources, but also by meteorological factors.

“We will interpret the data captured over time to show trends from which we will be able to quantify and apportion the different pollutants from the main sources.”

The municipality is responsible for enforcing various pieces of legislation related to air quality. These include municipal smoke control regulations, offensive trades regulations, public health bylaws and the local authorities ordinance as well as the national legislation on air quality, the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, number 39 of 2004 (AQA), which will come into full effect on September 11, 2009. These standards on air quality are based on best international practice.

In partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (DAEA), the municipality owns and operates a network of monitoring equipment around the city, which is used to monitor certain pollutants in the ambient air.

The municipality’s mobile air quality monitoring unit is moved around monthly to screen the air quality in different locations. Anthony said that this equipment also helps the municipality to respond to complaints from the public about air quality, especially odours.

For example, the unit has recently been sited near the municipal landfill site on New England Road, in Edendale, Sobantu, Alexandra Road and Pentrich.

“The data from this network are reported to unit’s portfolio committee in council and will soon be available monthly on The Witness and municipal websites.

“This information will also be available to educational institutions, interested and affected parties, NGOs and CBOs and to the general public,” Anthony said.

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