''Extract taken from Engineering News online
Article by: Creamer Media Reporter''

This was highlighted with the release of the 'South African State of the Air Report 2005', launched by Water and Environmental Affairs Deputy-Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi, in Vanderbijlpark, on Monday.

The report had determined some key conclusions, including that human health aspects related, in particular, to inhalation exposure to household coal and wood emissions, remained the most serious and pressing national air pollution problem.

Further, high ambient sulphur dioxide and concentration of fine particulate matter, owing mainly to fuel combustion within households, as well as the industrial and power generation sectors, represented ongoing air pollution problems in many parts of the country.

Elevated fine particulate concentrations occurred across the country, frequently exceeding health thresholds, while the close proximity of heavy industries and communities of people presented persistent health risks and conflict, which was exacerbated by increased pressure to build residential areas within former industrial and mining buffer zones.

Further, the department highlighted that emerging air pollution issues were closely associated with the transport sector, and in particular, road use, while questions regarding potential environmental impacts and the transboundary transportation of pollution generated by medium and elevated stack emissions from petrochemicals, metallurgical, and mineral-processing operations, and by coal-fired power stations, remained.

Meanwhile, compliance with new and more stringent air quality standards; understanding and addressing the risks to human health posed by exposure to airborne hazardous materials; responding to evidence that, for some pollutants, there may be no way to quantify the threshold below which exposure is no longer harmful; mitigating air pollution impacts that disproportionately affect low income communities; and reducing industrial emissions without detrimental effects on society and the economy, were some of the pressing challenges highlighted by the report.

2005 had been the year that South Africa implemented the new National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (AQA).

Air quality management had, prior to the AQA, been driven by the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act (APPA), which had, for many years, been regarded as ineffective and as not defending South Africa’s air quality from the emergence of various air pollution ‘hot spots’ around the country, the Department of Environmental Affairs stated.

It explained that APPA had focused specifically on individual source emissions, without effectively considering the accumulative impacts of these emissions.

To overcome this, the 'State of the Air Report' had been established as a starting point to give South Africans a picture of what the country’s air looked like at the time.

The one-off report would provide an overview of the state of air quality in South Africa, as well as provide a baseline on the levels of air pollution in the country.

“It also provides a detailed reference work for all South Africans who want to know more about the air they breathe and, in so doing, aims to deepen our democracy by providing the means for informed participatory air quality governance,” said Mabudafhasi.

Going forward, air quality would be reported in the future 'State of the Environment' reports, with the South African Air Quality Information System providing updated air quality information.

Further information

Read the original article here

The report is available for download in sections here

The report is available for download in one file here

category: Reports