Concentrations, distributions and critical level exceedance assessment of SO2, NO2 and O3 in South Africa
Pienaar, Jacobus Johannes
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South Africa has been identified as a source of industrial pollution that is significant at a global scale. This study was designed to provide quantitative information, by direct measurement, across northeastern South Africa, which includes the highly industrialised Mpumalanga Highveld. The specific aim of the study was to evaluate whether or not acidic atmospheric pollution poses a threat to soils, plants and water bodies of South Africa. To address this aim, a network of 37 passive sampling sites was established to measure monthly mean concentrations of near-surface SO2, NO2 and ozone. The area covered extended over the northern and eastern interior of South Africa while avoiding sources of local emissions such as towns, mines and highways. The field campaign was conducted between August 2005 and September 2007. Spatial distributions and temporal trends for these pollutant gases were assessed. Critical levels analysis comparisons were made against applicable air quality standards, guidelines and limits to evaluate the potential for adverse atmospheric pollution impacts on regional environments. The assessment indicates that only in the central source area of the South African industrial Highveld are some levels exceeded. In remote areas, including the sensitive forested regions of the Drakensberg escarpment, pollutant concentrations are below the critical thresholds for environmental damage.