A task team investigating complaints about the stench felt across parts of Gauteng and the North West in June has determined that a combination of weather events and industrial emissions are likely responsible for the sulphurous smell was responsible.< /p>
The task team consists of environmental and air quality officials from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and provincial authorities in Mpumalanga, Gauteng, the North West and the Free State.< /span>< /p>
The team’s internal interim report, given to Minister Barbara Creecy, shows that the sulfur odor may have originated from industrial operations in Mpumalanga and as a result of unusual airflow patterns that blew the odor away Gauteng and parts of the northwest during the week of June 5-12.
Interim surveys show that a low-pressure system in the north of the Mozambique Ka Relative damage was caused by unusual circulation patterns across the region during days when the population was complaining about the stench.
These conditions may have resulted in prevailing southeasterly winds transporting air pollution from Mpumalanga to Gauteng and the Northwest, particularly via Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Ambient air quality monitoring observations reflected in the SAAQIS (Air Quality Information System) show that despite industry compliance with air quality standards in Gauteng and Mpumalanga, ambient sulfur dioxide levels were higher than usual Period.
However, no emergencies (malfunctions, start-ups or shut-downs) were reported from facilities in Mpumalanga, the North West, Gauteng and the Free State with the potential a week large volumes of sulfur dioxide and/or hydrogen sulfide, the department said.
“Some of the public complaints about the sulfurous odor have coincided with incidents en in which sulfur dioxide occurred was higher than usual in the period in question. However, the elevated levels were unlikely to have had any health impact on surrounding communities.”
The task team is tasked with investigating and recommending possible policy interventions to further address hydrogen sulfide pollution and address concerns about public safety and the potential long-term health effects of exposure to improve management of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide emission sources beyond responses prompted by public complaints, the department said.
“The investigation will involve collaborating with industries from identified areas where hydrogen sulfide is important to discuss the near- and long-term management of sulfur-containing odors.”
There are four areas nationwide with actual or potential large emissions of hydrogen sulfideque llen are: Secunda, Sasolburg/Sedibeng, eMalahleni and Rustenburg.
Hydrogen sulfide (H₂S ) is a colorless, flammable, hazardous gas w with a strong smell of rotten eggs. It is created by the decomposition of animal waste or manure. It is heavier than air and can accumulate in low-lying and enclosed poorly ventilated areas such as fore pits, ditches or manholes. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide can irritate the eyes and respiratory tract. Hydrogen sulfide is used in many industries.
Sulfur dioxide (SO₂) is a colorless gas with a characteristic, irritating, pungent odor. Contact with sulfur dioxide can cause eye, nose and throat irritation. Sulfur dioxide is used to make sulfuric acid, paper and food preservatives.
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