Atmospheric pollution affects the quality of our air in many areas in South Africa, especially where there is industrial activity, such as coal burning power stations, and oil refineries.   While this type of pollution more immediately impacts on human health, it is also a major contributing factor to the ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions which threaten to disrupt the fragile balance of our planet.  The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) urges both industry and individuals to pay more attention to combatting air pollution.

The IWMSA’s President, Stan Jewaskiewitz says “In the case of air pollution, we need to find ways of reducing our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels and minimising the resultant carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that are produced. It is critical that we create awareness of this serious issue.”

Large bodies of air cannot be contained, so the pollution thereof can only be controlled at source and we cannot retract harmful gases once they are released into the atmosphere.   Globally, power generation alone is responsible for one quarter of the planet’s CO2 emissions, and there is no question that there is a much greater incidence of respiratory, as well as other diseases such as cancer, in areas close to fossil fuel-burning plants.  The consequences extend even further; to both productivity and the economy.

Jewaskiewitz continues “The question of climate change is becoming more and more crucial, largely due to ever increasing volumes of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere, and compounded by deforestation taking place around the world.

“It’s not only the industrial sector that is responsible for these emissions although they certainly produce the lion’s share.  In less advantaged urban and rural areas where access to electricity is difficult or not affordable, and people depend on fires for heating and warmth, levels of smoke and other pollutants are unacceptably high.  Often, on the African continent at large, mounds of waste are set alight, including hazardous materials:  an extremely dangerous and harmful practice on many levels.

“We spend long hours commuting, and our cities and roads are often packed with vehicles belching forth toxic fumes due to non-compliance or inefficient operation.  This remains a problem despite the fact that there are by-laws in place which aim to regulate emissions, especially from vehicles using diesel fuel.  One study conducted in Los Angeles, a city renowned for its brown haze of smog, determined that up to half their residents’ total exposure to harmful air pollutants occurs while people are traveling in their vehicles.”

Jewaskiewitz concludes “The IWMSA is proud to rank amongst its members, professionals in their fields, who voluntarily give of their time and expertise to further the cause of taking conscious action in all the arenas of waste management through continuous education and training.  We hope to inspire people to think of innovative solutions to reducing waste at source, including that of air pollutants.”

The IWMSA is a professional, multi-disciplinary organisation with voluntary membership established to promote the science and practice of waste management and is a non-profit organisation. For more information visit: or contact the IWMSA on 011 675 3462/4.