Environmental group warns of risk posed by air pollution in Yangon

Air pollution in most locations in Yangon exceed authorised limits, according to the 2018 air quality findings of the environment group Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM).

Yangon City should be a starting point to monitor air quality, improve practices and enact air quality management policies, according to ALARM.

Air quality measurements were taken in crowded places affected by heavy traffic, said U Lwin Maung Maung Swe, programme director of ALARM.

Among the high level of gases detected in the study was nitrogen dioxide.

“Nitrogen dioxide is released when compounds in nature are burnt. Nitrogen can cause respiratory problems, and although it is not a poisonous gas, [a person] will die if he keeps inhaling it due to the deprivation of oxygen. In addition, the gas is released in exhaust from cars,” said Dr Kyaw Nyein Aye, an environmentalist.

Air quality is measured continuously over eight hours at three metres above ground level, which is the people’s breathing zone.

The measured data revealed that nitrogen dioxide exceeds the authorised limit in front of Yangon City Hall. The level has risen tenfold from previous years (2016, 2017), and the numbers of particles are also above the maximum allowed in 2018.

A project to monitor air quality, which was initiated from 2016 to 2018, took measurements during those three years in five locations throughout the city: Bayint Naung junction, Hledan junction, Myaynigone junction, Tamwe junction, and in front of Yangon City Hall.

Data were analysed over the three years in line with the 2015 Myanmar Environmental Air Quality Emission Standards. The project primarily measured nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and particles.

The comparison showed that Bayint Naung junction was the most polluted out of the locations tested. To understand the cause of the pollution, more monitoring needs to be done, said officials from Green Motherland Development Association.

Pollution is not only a problem in Yangon but in other areas across the country. Six out of ten regions and states that had an environmental survey conducted in 2013-14 reported high levels of pollution.

Another environmental survey in 2015 revealed that air pollution was affecting four out of eight regions where the survey was conducted.

According to the findings, air pollution can be attributed to particles and waste from factories, garbage from kitchens, the livestock industry, the burning of garbage, cement and coal factories and substandard road construction.

“We are not raising the alarm on air pollution but we need to remain aware of it. The relevant authorities will follow up with measures to control it,” U Lwin Maung Maung Swe said.

Source : Myanmar Times

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