Air quality is affected by economic activities which introduces pollutants into the atmosphere that pose threats to human health and other life forms on earth. It furthermore has the potential to change the climate with unpredictable, but potentially severe consequences on a local and global scale. Because large bodies of air cannot be contained, atmospheric pollution can only be controlled at its source. At present there is no comprehensive information on air quality or on the levels of emissions entering the atmosphere from different sources. Major areas of concern are high levels of smoke and other pollutants in poorer urban and rural households without electricity, and the impacts of the mining, energy, mineral and petro-chemical industries on air quality standards (Environmental Management Policy for South Africa, 1998).
Air pollution is a major environmental problem throughout the whole of South Africa. South Africa derives 75,2 % of its energy from coal (a non-renewable resource), and most air pollution problems thus result from man’s pattern of energy use and production. The rest of the energy comes from the following sources: 10,1% from crude oil, 9,8% from renewable bagasse and wood, 3,1% from nuclear power, 1,6% from gas and 0,2% from hydro power (Surridge, 1999).
The worst levels of air pollution in South Africa is found in the Eastern Highveld of Mpumalanga (formerly the Eastern Transvaal). It covers an area of 30 000 km2 and is home to ten ESKOM power stations, of which five are the largest in the world. The three main power stations, Matla, Duvha and Arnot produce 860 tons of SO2 per km2 per year. The area also contains coal mines, Sasol petrochemical plants and other industries. The major dust dome in South Africa is the Vaal Triangle to the south of Gauteng (Tyson et.al., 1988).
The worst polluted areas in Greater Johannesburg are the surrounding Highveld areas due to the combustion of fuels for the generation...
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