Lockdown: SA air quality improves with less road traffic

While the lockdown has brought our economy to a virtual standstill, South Africa’s environment is capitalising. Vehicle emissions are one of the greatest contributors to air pollution. But with much fewer cars on the roads until the end of April, one expert says there has been a significant improvement in air quality. #Day17ofLockdown #COVID19InSA

JOHANNESBURG - The lockdown has several negative knock-on effects, not least of which is economically, but what positive can we draw from this unprecedented era?

READ: Airbus cuts production by one-third due to pandemic

The Environmental Affairs Department's National Air Quality Officer said the air we are breathing is much cleaner.

Thuli Khumalo said, “It’s across the country. It’s just that Johannesburg has the highest traffic volumes, well I’m not sure how it compares with Cape Town, but it’s not only in Joburg."

"Cape Town has also seen major improvements and some of our stations that are not in the cities in the Highveld, where there’s moderate traffic, we have also seen improvements.”

As South Africa hits the pause button, some aspects of the environment are rejuvenating.

Khumalo said, "we have seen major improvements. The environment has been happy, if I could put it that way. But there will be problems in other sectors like when waste is not collected. Because people are still generating waste but the recyclers are not as active as normal, but in terms of air quality it has been a massive improvement.”

Khumalo said they expect the improvement to be temporary.

Khumalo said data shows there has been a 60 to 70-percent improvement in pollution levels registered at some of the country’s traffic monitoring stations.

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