Monday, October 20, 2008

Air quality monitored closer


16 October 2008

Air quality monitored closer, Minister says

New steps to improve the quality of air in the province are being put
in place by the Western Cape Provincial Government.

Minister Pierre Uys, provincial minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, has today launched a special station in Vredenburg to continuously and scientifically monitor the quality of ambient air in the Saldanha Bay area for a full year. The data will be used to better understand air quality in the area.

Minister Pierre Uys (centre) with Hans Linde, Deputy Director: Air Quality Management, and Gottlieb Arendse, Director: Pollution and Waste Management

This is one of three stations the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has bought to monitor the quality of air and check on specific pollutants over the next five years in strategically identified areas with municipalities.

The roll-out of the air quality management system is an initiative of the Western Cape Government in the interest of the environment and health. The station monitors the critical gaseous pollutants, particulate matter and relevant meteorological data.

The decision to locate the station here was jointly taken between thelocal and provincial authorities due to perceptions of the air in the West Coast district and in particular the Saldanha Bay area. In cooperation with the West Coast District Municipality, this monitoring station has been located at the Hoƫrskool Vredenburg (high school).

This unit now forms part of the provincial monitoring system with stations also in Paarl and in Mossel Bay. Over the next five years the stations will be relocated to other points every year.

Minister Uys says: "Every person has a right to clean air and with the launching of this station the Provincial Government is striving to better understand the quality of the air and reinforces its commitment and obligations with respect to the air quality management across the province."

"The Saldanha Bay and West Coast District Municipal area is a development node. It is therefore important that we as authorities, together with the industries, accept our responsibilities with respect to air quality. We look forward to sharing the information with each other and collectively come to a better understanding of the air quality in this particular area."

Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) +27 73 133 7299
Minister Uys +27 82 4555 144


To fulfill the Provincial Government's obligation in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, the Province has purchased the necessary equipment to set up three (3) fully equipped continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations. To assist with the evaluation of air quality, these monitors will be strategically deployed across the Province on rotational basis over a five (5) year period. Each station will be located at a selected site for a one-year period to ensure that all the seasons are covered.

On 11 September 2007, DEAT published the National Framework for Air Quality Management for the Republic of South Africa. Importantly, this Framework includes a table to guide the Municipalities with respect to the quality of ambient air within their areas of jurisdiction. The said framework rates the air quality in the West Coast District Municipality, City of Cape Town and the Winelands District Municipality areas as POOR and the Eden District Municipality as POTENTIALLY POOR.

The monitoring station is comprised of an air-conditioned housing unit mounted on a chassis with wheels to be transportable. The unit is equipped with continuous analyzers for the monitoring of the critical pollutants, Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Ozone (O3) and Particulate Matter (PM10). Importantly, the unit is complimented with a 9-metre high mask with a full range of instruments to monitor meteorological parameters, wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity.

The monitors will be regularly calibrated and will be operated according to laid down accredited procedures. This all makes for a sound air quality monitoring program of the so-called critical pollutants and with the necessary additional weather data capturing system this will ensure scientific analysis of information that is recorded.

The monitoring of air quality over a period will place the Province in the position to assist the municipalities with evaluating the state of the environment with respect to air quality and to build its capacity in ambient air quality monitoring. This monitoring station will contribute and augment the monitoring systems currently in operation by the private sector and other monitoring programmes.

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