Alarm as air pollution levels exceed the WHO limit

Alarm as air pollution levels exceed the WHO limit

Emerging evidence has linked the smog horizons seen in various towns and cities across the country with high levels of pollution.

The exhibition that began last week has sparked health anxiety among residents.

Fears about hazy horizons were compounded by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) announcement last Monday that they detected contamination several times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) normal range of 25. micrograms per cubic meter.

“Results from our 23 citywide air quality monitors over the past 28 days indicate that the average particulate matter (PM 2.5) is 75 micrograms per cubic meter, [which] is 3 times higher than the limit for the World Health Organization (WHO), ”the KCCA said in a tweet on February 7.

Particulate matter (PM) is the sum of all the solid and liquid particles suspended in the air, many of which are dangerous to human health. PM2.5 are inhalable fine particles.

AirQo, a Makerere University project that collects and analyzes air quality data using cloud-based technologies, confirmed that their analyzes for the Kampala area indicate that PM2.5 levels have largely been within the ‘unhealthy and very unhealthy’ areas of the Air Quality Index (AQI).
“At 7 am on Tuesday, air quality levels ranged from 60 to 200 micrograms per cubic meter and had reached 300 micrograms per cubic meter in some areas. These levels fluctuate throughout the day, ”AirQo said in a tweet.

This means that some residents were exposed to contamination levels more than five times higher than the WHO normal range.

During the close of last year, AirQo reported that air quality had improved by 40 percent. In an interview yesterday, Mr. Deo Okure, AirQo’s air quality scientist, said that the pollution is due to changes in season and human activities.

“We have been closely monitoring the air quality (in Kampala) for the past few days. Since Thursday of last week, the horizon was full of fog. We compare with what is happening in other cities around the world and it seems that it is a localized problem [only in Kampala], ”said Okure.

According to experts, although this period is supposed to be a dry season, in January it has rather been raining.

“Calm weather situations, like less wind, tend to trap pollution closer to the ground because it cannot be dispersed. It is that pollution closer to the ground that affects people and that is what machines detect. When there is a lot of humidity, the [dust] particles swell. But if the air is very dry, it is easier for dust to form, ”Okure explained.

Dr William Worodria, a respiratory disease expert at Makerere University Lung Institute, said the main drivers of pollution in the country are emissions from industries, motorized transportation and cooking with biomass or wood fuel. . “If we had cheaper electricity, people would use less biomass. Some of the pollutants are silica from the roads, so if they can asphalt the roads it will lower the level of those pollutants, ”said Dr. Worodria.

KCCA said last Monday that its “team is working on source distribution and emissions inventories to determine the contribution of each sector and how to deal with it.” Dr. Daniel Okello, KCCA Director of Public Health and Environment, could not be reached for further details as of press time.

However, Tony Achidria, the senior public relations official for the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), said that efforts to curb pollution in the country are increasing.

“Much of the pollution is caused by old vehicles, those that are not well cared for, and weddings. You realize that the air quality was much better during the confinement when the weddings and the vehicles couldn’t move compared to when they were operating, ”said Achidria.

“In addition, it is assumed that air pollution is caused by emissions from industries. But our findings have indicated that the industries are well regulated and their emissions are very low, ”he said. Daily Monitor was unable to independently verify this.
According to Mr. Achidria, the industries are monitored periodically and these are parameters that they must follow in terms of what they can emit.

He said the agency has also implemented a law that prohibits the importation of vehicles older than five years.

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