The MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services in the City of Johannesburg (CoJ), Councillor Nico de Jager, last week officially relaunched the newly revamped Air Quality Monitoring station, in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg.
This event formed part of the World Environment Week. It was held under the theme ‘Air Pollution’, and sought to encourage learners, residents and businesses to explore sustainable alternatives in an effort to reduce pollution.
The CoJ emphasised that the overwhelming support from city entities and departments such as Environment and Infrastructure Services, Environmental Health, Pikitup, Joburg City Parks and Zoo, as well as the national Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), showcased how joint efforts from different levels of government could make a great impact to benefit many communities.
“Residents of the city are exposed to relatively poor quality of air, particularly in relation to exposure to airborne particulates (fine particles from smoke, haze, biomass burning and automobiles),” commented De Jager.
He indicated that this left the city vulnerable to pollution from coal burning, wood fires, waste burning, transportation and industrial activities.
“This is a community asset and we need your help to protect it. Two of our stations have been vandalised in the past, one at the Crown interchange and in Buccleuch. We plead with our communities to report vandalism to law enforcement authorities,” said De Jager.
He indicated that the department was currently in talks with relevant authorities to provide improved security to all stations.
“We encourage residents and the learners to be ambassadors in the community,” said national DEA representative Vumile Senene.
He told the crowd that Orange Farm was an air quality priority area and the department would continue working with schools and the community in the area.
The CoJ has nine air quality monitoring stations across all regions, but focus is weighted towards low-income communities with a strong reliance on coal-fired stoves. Since 2004, the city has spent over R5-million on building and revamping the monitoring stations.
Vehicles and domestic fuel-burning are the largest sources of air pollutants in the city.
Data collected from the stations assists the CoJ in making informed decisions to better manage air pollution and develop policies that recognise the importance of conserving natural resources.
Information collected is available for the public on the South African Air Quality Information System, hosted and maintained by the national DEA.
“We cannot stop breathing, [but] we can do something about the quality of the air we breathe,” concluded De Jager.