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​The Member of the Mayoral Committee for Environment and Infrastructure Services in the City of Johannesburg, Councillor Nico de Jager, officially relaunched the newly revamped Air Quality and Monitoring stations in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, today June 7 2019.

Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. This event forms part of the World Environment Week. It encourages worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment. It also raises awareness on measures required to protect human health and the environment.

The overwhelming support from city entities and departments such as Environment & Infrastructure Services, Environmental Health, Pikitup, Joburg City Parks and Zoo as well as the National Department of Environmental Affairs, indicated how joint efforts from different levels of government could make a great impact to benefit many communities.

MMC De Jager said: “Residents of the City are exposed to relatively poor quality of air, particularly in relation to exposure to airborne particulates (fine particles from smoke, haze, biomass burning and automobiles). This leaves the City vulnerable to pollution from coal burning, wood fires, waste burning, transportation and industrial activities.

“This is a community asset and we need you help to protect it. Two of our stations have been vandalised in the past, one at the Crown interchange and in Buccleuch. We plead with our communities to report vandalism to law enforcement authorities. The department is currently in talks with relevant authority to provide improved security to all stations," said De Jager.

Vumile Senene, a representative from the National Department of Environment Affairs, said: “We encourage residents and the learners to be ambassadors in the community."

He told the crowd that Orange Farm is an air quality priority area and the department will continue working with schools and the community in the area.

The event, held under the theme “Air Pollution", sought to encourage learners, residents and businesses to explore sustainable alternatives in an effort to reduce pollution.

The city has nine monitoring stations across all regions, but focus is weighted towards low-income communities with a strong reliance on coal-fired stoves. Since 2004, the City has spent over R5 million building and revamping the monitoring stations.

Vehicles and domestic fuel-burning are the largest sources of air pollutants in the city.

Data collected from the stations assist the City to make informed decisions to better manage air pollution and develop policies that recognise the importance of conserving natural resources. Information collected is available for the public on the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS) hosted and maintained by the National Department of Environmental Affairs.

In total there are over 140 stations in South Africa reporting live data to national repository of the SAAQIS.​

“We cannot stop breathing, however we can do something about the quality of the air we breathe," MMC De Jager concluded.