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South Africans have 'no idea' what they are breathing

The Department of Environmental Affairs has told Parliament the lack of monitoring meant previous laws never looked at how South Africans were meant to be protected in terms of air quality.

Picture: pixabay.

JOHANNESBURG – Environmental Affairs Minister Barbara Creecy said government needed to act urgently as some parts of the country were choking in heavy air pollution.

Creecy and officials from her department briefed Parliament on Friday on air quality and what's being done to mitigate the impact of pollution.

Vumile Senene, the director responsible for air quality management at the department, said South Africans have no idea what they are breathing.

“As I indicated before, South Africans had no information as to what is the quality of air that they are breathing. The Air Quality Act puts a requirement that government must monitor quality [and] assess compliance.”

He said the lack of monitoring meant previous laws never looked at how South Africans were meant to be protected in terms of air quality.

The minister said they have now put in place certain priority air quality areas, situated mostly in mining provinces.

“We have put in place certain priority air quality areas. These areas would be in the Mpumalanga Highveld, Limpopo and also in the Vaal Triangle in Gauteng.”