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Loss of air quality monitoring ‘unfortunate and disappointing’

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs,. The Ministry of Home Affairs recently defunded its air-monitoring programme. (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

“Unfortunate and disappointing” is how one local scientist with expertise in pollutants described the defunding of the Government’s air-monitoring programme.

The scientist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that without monitoring “you are not getting the full picture of what pollutants are in the air and the source of those pollutants”.

The scientist said air-quality data assists government officials in regulatory decision making but the home affairs ministry cut the $230,000 programme run by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for budget reasons.

The scientist questioned how limits set out in the Clean Air Regulations 1993 would be monitored and enforced without continuous air monitoring.

“You can easily write regulations based on current science, human health and such considerations. The regulations have to be risk-based and science-based. You set levels that are demonstrably appropriate and compare the air quality against those.

“Monitoring aids them because if they have a particular pollutant above a certain level and know it is coming from a specific source then they can regulate that source.”

The source added: “Ideally air-quality monitoring should be independent. In other countries including the UK, US and Canada, there is government or state-level monitoring.”

The Government is currently updating Bermuda’s clean-air laws.

The scientist said that including a 15-minute emission concentration limit in the regulations, in line with British and EU air-quality standards, would be an important consideration in the drafting of any legislation.

The source added: “You get spikes in concentrations and if you average it out over an hour it can be low enough to set under a threshold but in a shorter period you can look at the spikes.

“That would bring Bermuda’s legislation in line with UK/EU standards. It is easier to attribute it to a particular source giving more scope for control.

“The more data you have the more powerful analysis you have.”

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Published September 26, 2022 at 9:45 am (Updated September 26, 2022 at 9:45 am)

Loss of air quality monitoring ‘unfortunate and disappointing’

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