The latest attacks of Air Quality Monitoring Stations by criminals are putting the lives of our people and the general environment at risk. It is a fact that poor air quality is commonly known for its contribution to, among others, respiratory and cardiac diseases.

According to the World Health Organisation, poor air quality kills an estimated seven million people per year.

The City of Ekurhuleni, as an industrial hub, has deployed 10 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations across the City to help identify sources of potential harmful emissions. The ambient air quality monitoring stations are strategically placed throughout the city to measure key air pollutants such as particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

The data collected by these monitoring stations help the municipality understand the sources of air pollution in the area and take appropriate actions to mitigate it. This can include measures such as implementing stricter emissions standards for industrial facilities, promoting the use of public transportation and encouraging the use of clean energy sources.

“However, despite the vital role that these monitoring stations play in air quality management, they have been increasingly targeted by criminals in recent years. Security breaches such as cable theft, vandalism and theft of monitoring equipment have become all too common, leading to disruptions in data collection and making it more difficult for the municipality to accurately assess and address air pollution in the area,” explains spokesman Zweli Dlamini.

“The implications of these security breaches to air quality management for the residents of Ekurhuleni are significant. Without accurate and reliable data, the municipality may not be able to identify and address the sources of air pollution in the area, leading to a degradation of air quality and potential health risks for residents.”

In 2022, the city has experienced many burglaries at four of its facilities – Delville, Leondale, Thokoza and Springs. These transgressions also come at a high through high cost of maintenance, and the replacement of the stolen specialised equipment.

“This does not only put the municipality in a precarious financial position, but this is money that could be going into other service delivery needs in the area,” continues Dlamini. “Worse of all, these facilities are meant to better the lives of the people and the environment.”

Fortunately, residents of Ekurhuleni can assist the municipality in protecting the ambient air quality monitoring stations and help ensure that air quality management efforts are effective, by reporting any suspicious activity or vandalism at these facilities. This can be reported to the law enforcement agencies such as the EMPD, SAPS and/or customer care centres 

Meanwhile, residents are advised that they can also take steps to reduce their own contributions to air pollution, such as using alternative modes of transportation, conserving energy and supporting clean energy initiatives.