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EMA conducts air quality monitoring in response to Beetham Landfill fires

 

 

Media Release

EMA conducts air quality monitoring in response to Beetham Landfill fires

 

 

29/1/14

 

On Monday 27th January 2014, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) responded to the fires at the Beetham Landfill operated by the Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL). An EMA team was dispatched to monitor air quality as a result of thick smoke emerging from the landfill which engulfed a significant area in and around the capital city.  The team was accompanied by representatives from SMWCOL and the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation.  

Air quality tests were conducted at three sites on Monday 27th January 2014 near Sea Lots, Downtown Port of Spain and near the Foreshore. The air quality tests measured the amounts of particulates in the air. Particulates refer to particles suspended in the atmosphere, and can remain suspended for long periods where they are a key component of air pollution and smog. Particulates affect the environment as it contributes to greenhouse gases, and affects human health as they can they easily reach the deepest recesses of the lungs leading to respiratory ailments according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Readings for the total volume of particulates in the air were measured against the standards outlined in the Draft Air Pollution Rules (APR) (2013) by the EMA.

The test conducted on Monday 27th January 2014 at the site closest to the source of the smoke near Sea Lots revealed that the particulates present in the atmosphere were more than 13 times the limit of the Draft APR. The test conducted in Downtown Port of Spain revealed readings more than 10 times the limit, and the test conducted near the Foreshore (the test site furthest from the source) revealed readings more than twice the limit.

Based on the above readings, the EMA expresses grave concern for the impact of the particulates on human health as the readings are well above the acceptable standard of 150 µg/m³/24 hr, and will continue its air quality monitoring with tests until levels have normalised. The EMA continues to work closely with the partnering state agencies to alleviate environmental impacts caused by these fires.

Chairman of the EMA Dr. Allan Bachan lamented that this most unfortunate incident is of serious concern to the Authority, and that the EMA will adopt the necessary measures within its jurisdiction to alleviate this problem.

 

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