While there serious issues confronting the state-owned utility firm Eskom, there are other remote concerns of endangering residents with dangerous emission.
A new study on air pollution by Eskom, Sasol Synfuels, and Natref provided shocking evidence of the harmful effects caused by these organisations to the environment and to human health.
The study was conducted by Dr. H. Andrew Gray of Gray Sky Solutions, an air pollution research consulting firm specializing in particulate matter (PM) and visibility issues.
The study and research report focused on the air quality in and around South Africa’s Highveld Priority Area (HPA).
It was included as expert evidence in High Court papers served on Friday 7 June 2019 to the President of South Africa, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, and the National Air Quality Officer.
The legal action is aimed at “getting the minister to do her job” and ensure that air quality is improved in South Africa.
Important results from the modelling and health risk assessment include:
- Ambient pollution from the 14 facilities examined in the study caused between 305 and 650 early deaths in the area in 2016. The three worst offenders were Lethabo power station (57 to 122 early deaths), Kendal power station (46 to 99 early deaths), and Kriel power station (34 to 76 early deaths).
- Cumulative emissions from the 14 facilities created acute exposures in 2016 that exceeded the World Health Organisation’s guidelines for daily or hour
- All of the 120 sensitive sites (primarily schools and hospitals) analysed in the model exceeded the World Health Organization’s 24-hour average SO2 guideline in 2016 due to emissions from the 14 facilities.
- Unhealthy, acute exposures to NO2 occurred at 28 of the 120 sensitive sites in 2016, exceeding the WHO one-hour NO2 guideline concentration.
- The 14 facilities are responsible for the lion’s share of air pollution allowed by national air quality limits.
- Major reductions of SO2 emissions from the 14 sources are necessary to reduce the high levels of secondary PM2.5 (from sulfate particles) contributing to PM2.5. (PM2.5 is air pollution in the form of Particulate Matter up to 2,5 µm (microns) in diameter).
- The 14 modelled sources are responsible for substantial PM2.5 exposures across at least 30% of the entire modelled area.