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NEMA introduces standards and regulations for air quality

KAMPALA, May 6, 2024 – Uganda has established national standards and regulations for air quality ahead of Air Quality Week, according to Barirega Akankwasah, Executive Director of the National Environment Management Authority [NEMA] who spoke to the media this Monday regarding pollution and the repercussions of poor air quality.

While addressing the media at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala about the purpose of Air Quality Week, Barirega said the guidelines to be unveiled later this month have been established for the first time since Uganda ever existed and were gazetted last month.

He said all industries in the country will now be required to install scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators, and fabric filters to reduce industry emissions. Industries will also be required to install automated air quality monitors that transmit data automatically to the central database.

“Industries will also be required to install automated air quality monitors that transmit data automatically to the central database. Industries that emit above allowable standards will require permits and will be required to pay for excess emissions. This way, industries that use green technologies will save money and those using old technologies will have to be penalized. After the grace period, certain technologies will be declared banned in line with the regulations,” said Akankwasah.

He said NEMA will restrict engine technologies and age in line with the new standards, encourage timely servicing of vehicles, and ensure good fuel quality.

He noted that Uganda is this week commemorating Air Quality Week under the theme “Knowing Your Air to Protect Human Health and the Environment’’.

“The purpose of Air Quality Awareness Week is to raise public awareness about the importance of air quality to human health and the environment and what we can do to continuously improve air quality around us,” he noted

Air pollution, including fine particulate matter [PM2.5] and tropospheric ozone and their precursors, is the leading environmental risk to human health, with 99 percent of people worldwide exposed to air pollution levels that exceed the WHO guidelines.

“It is quite clear that air quality-related death is unrivalled by any other known cause of death in every single year at the global scale, yet the attention and investment in air pollution control remain minimal, if at all. In Uganda, compromised air quality increases disease burden, with close to 31,600 people dying from air pollution-related diseases annually, especially in urban areas,” he said

Studies on sources of pollution conducted in Kampala City revealed that transport is the leading cause of air pollution, followed by domestic and biomass burning. Other sources of air pollution are industrial emissions and dust released from untarmacked roads.

“Our air quality monitoring data, especially around Kampala, indicate an increase in air pollution from an annual average of 39.5µg/m3 in 2019 to 3 41µg/m3 in 2024. This is about eight times above the annual average recommended guideline of 5 µg/m3 by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This means that our air is increasingly polluted and we must take deliberate measures to address the factors causing the pollution,” he said.

To address the problem, Barirega encouraged all people living in Uganda to green their compounds, farmlands, land boundaries, pathways, road reserves, school compounds, name it.

He said Uganda is now making air quality monitors affordable using materials sourced from Uganda, courtesy of Makerere University.

He said air pollution is associated with 6.7 million deaths, mostly premature deaths. 6.7 million people are lost every year to poor air quality or air pollution, for that matter. That’s not a very good statistic.

“Air pollution is the leading environmental risk to human health, with 99 percent of people worldwide exposed to air pollution levels that exceed WHO safe standards. 99 percent of the people in the world are exposed to unsafe air,” he said.

The official said the purpose of the Air Quality Awareness Week which runs from May 6-10, 2024, is to raise public awareness about the importance of air quality to human health and the environment. “What we can do to continuously improve air quality around us for our own health and the health of the environment,” he said.

On reversing the curve of forest cover, he said the country is moving quite well. “We’ve been able to reverse the curve of forest cover loss, as you know, from 9.5 percent in 2019 to now 13.3 percent. We think that we are on course to attaining the 2024 target of 15 percent forest cover of our country,” he said.

https://thecooperator.news/commercial-charcoal-burning-is-illegal-in-uganda-says-nema-boss/

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