City of Cape Town commits to better air quality

The City of Cape Town has committed R1.2-million to procuring additional air quality monitoring equipment in the current financial year. This planned expenditure comes on the back of nearly R1.5-million spent in the last financial year to advance the work of its Air Quality Management Unit within the Specialised Environmental Health Department.

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This Department is a crucial role-player in ensuring that residents and visitors to Cape Town enjoy the right to clean air.

The following statement was released by the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith…

‘Our continued investment is particularly timely, considering that air quality is the theme of World Environmental Health Day which was observed 26 September 2017. According to the World Health Organisation, infants and pre-schoolers who are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke have an increased risk of pneumonia during childhood and a lifelong increased risk of chronic diseases, such as asthma, heart disease, stroke and cancer. I can personally attest to this, as someone who has been asthmatic for most of my life, having grown up in close proximity to a steel refinery.

‘The City’s Air Quality Management Unit focuses on the management of ambient air quality through the regulation of polluters in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act and the City’s Air Quality Management By-law. In addition, the City’s Scientific Services Department plays a crucial role in the scientific measurement of ambient air quality through a network of 13 community-based monitoring stations which measure the criteria pollutants prescribed in the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

‘Data obtained from the ambient air quality monitoring network has shown that Cape Town’s ambient air quality is generally in compliance with the annual ambient air quality standards. A total of 32-episode days were recorded in the last financial year in Wallacedene, Khayelitsha, Goodwood, the Foreshore, Bellville South and Table View. During the same period, two exceedances of the eight-hour running average for ozone were also recorded at the Atlantis and Plattekloof Reservoir monitoring sites. These episodes need to be seen in context and in comparison, with those recorded on the Highveld where, for example, the Secunda monitoring station experienced 98-episode days and 1 130 ozone eight-hour running average exceedances.

‘The statistics show that our air quality is better than most, if not all other metros. It is, however, difficult to state this categorically as many metros are not able to consistently report reliable data.

‘In this regard, the City’s ambient air quality monitoring network is the most comprehensive of all local authorities, with just the City of Cape Town and eThekwini being in the position to contribute to the 2016 National State of Air Report.

‘The maintenance and replacement of our monitoring equipment is challenging as the air quality analysers are not only costly, but given that they have to be imported from the USA, Japan and Europe, there is an inevitable loss of data when a unit does fail.

‘As part of the financial investment in monitoring equipment, Scientific Services has also installed a camera monitoring system located on the Tygerberg Hills antennae to provide additional remote monitoring of air pollution episodes and industry. As far as we are aware, this is a first for Cape Town.

‘Our Diesel Vehicle Emission Testing Programme is the most comprehensive in the country, with three dedicated teams conducting daily roadside testing of vehicles in partnership with the City’s Traffic Service. Of the 7 798 vehicles that were tested in the last financial year, 223 failures were recorded (2.8%).’


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