Cars Threaten Cape Town Air Quality

Although Cape Town has cleaner air than most metros around the country, the growing number of vehicles in the city is a posing a challenge to keeping it that way.

There are now an estimated one million vehicles on the city’s roads.

“Transport-related emissions are quite significant,” the city council’s chief air quality officer, Ian Gildenhuys, told the environment and spatial planning portfolio committee yesterday.

Emissions from informal settlements as a result of burning wood and the dust from unpaved areas were also challenges to keeping the city’s air clean.

Although improvements in air quality had been picked up at testing stations in Goodwood, Wallacedene and Table View, Khayelitsha was hovering just below the national average.

Gildenhuys said pollution levels across the city were on a downward trend thanks to continuous testing at the council’s 14 monitoring stations.

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They monitor several pollutants including sulphur dioxide, particulate matter, ozone, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and volatile organic compounds.

But Gildenhuys said an air monitoring station was needed in the southern peninsula to cover areas like Mitchells Plain and the industrial area in Retreat.

So far this financial year, the council had only exceeded air quality standards on three days – twice at Wallacedene and once in Goodwood – compared with five days in 2014/15.


The law makes provision for standards to be exceeded four times a year at each testing station.

Last month, the city approved an updated air quality control by-law.

Gildenhuys said the effect of vehicle emissions, industrial activity and fossil fuel burning on the city’s ambient air quality had been particularly evident during Cape Town’s “brown haze” months from April to September, when falling temperatures and windless conditions were prevalent.

More than 1000 fuel-burning appliances are employed by industries in Cape Town.


Gildenhuys said that, despite the burgeoning number of vehicles on the roads, fewer were failing random roadside tests as a result of the improved quality of diesel.

Last year, only 12 of 5 634 diesel, mostly heavy duty vehicles, failed emissions tests.


Gildenhuys said the council was closely monitoring transport-related emissions from motor vehicles and the Cape Town harbour, particularly from its Foreshore testing station. Aircraft movements were also being checked.

“Improved fuel quality, electric vehicles and an effective public transport system are the keys to our clean air future. We have lots to do, but it’s work in progress,” said Gildenhuys.

Despite complaints from Hout Bay residents about the stink from fish processing, the industry was not exceeding standard pollution levels.


Source – iol

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