Posted on: August 10, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

SA Draft National Dust Control Regulations, published for comment in May 2011, is standardising workplace air quality and hygiene limits.

The new regulations are proposed under authority of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act, 39 of 2004, in Government Gazette 34307, under notice 309, on 27 May 2011 by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa.

The Regulations propose to prescribe general dust control measures in work areas, including residential and light commercial workplaces.

Prohibitions are proposed on conducting activities in such a way as to give rise to dust in such quantities and concentrations that certain stipulated requirements are transgressed, or dust fall limits are exceeded.

Dust fall and ambient monitoring dust provisions are included in the Draft Regulations, as well as offences and penalties.

Air Quality Officers appointed

Air quality licensing has been delegated to local authorities, and individual areas and officers are listed at www.saaquis.org.za under the button ‘Search Air Quality Officers’. If not found or not responding, employers or workers may contact provincial Air Quality officials.

Organisations conducting listed activities could expect more stringent air quality standards by quantifying of lower maximum emissions.

Operators should ensure that processes are efficient, especially in identified national priority areas like the Vaal river basin, and comply with licensing requirements.

Dr Gregory Scott of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) said at a CAIA workshop that ‘listed’ operators have to follow a certain process for Atmospheric Emission Licenses (AELs), during transition from the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act (APPA) of 1965, to the Air Quality Act, for which municipalities are licensing authorities.

The new AEL process is related to the existing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, administered by provincial authorities. AEL application forms, requirements, fees and transitional arrangements were also published.

Relevant employers should contact local municipal AEL authorities, and provincial EIA authorities when in doubt.

Old plant and new plant compliance deadlines

Compliance deadlines include two sets of standards;
• Existing plants must meet existing plant standards by 2015, and existing plants have to meet new plant standards by 2020.

• New plants must meet new plant standards immediately.

On renewal of emission license applications, stricter standards may be imposed, for example, if concentration of industries in the area had increased.

Priority pollutants strategy

Carina Burger of Impala Platinum advised CAIA workshops on ambient air quality standards and explained what priority pollutants are. Operators should;
* draft an air quality management strategy and plan
* conduct a baseline assessment
* develop emission inventories
* develop emission reduction strategies for priority pollutants.

Municipal air quality management bylaws

Edmund van Wyk of Ekurhuleni municipality told CAIA members that draft model air quality management bylaws would be adopted by municipalities. “The biggest challenge for industry is to meet the new standards by the set compliance dates”, he said.

However, many operators could find financial and sheq benefits in waste reduction, cleaner production, re-use, and recycling measures.

Municipalities are responsible to set emissions and monitoring standards and issue emission licenses.

Air quality management steps

Hanlie Hattingh of Omnia Fertiliser said it required “long term strategies to measure, monitor and reduce emissions. She had worked on introducing an air quality management system and achieved compliance in a phased approach, including;
• confirming emissions
• installing monitoring equipment
• undertaking an economic and technology feasibility study
• introduce process changes for air pollution abatement

SA Air Quality Information System

Jongikhaya Witi of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) said the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS) was being developed at the South African Weather Service in three phases to facilitate air quality information management;
• Phase I; ambient air quality module
• Phase II; emissions module
• Phase III; modelling module

Air quality related information will be reported by DEA to the public and used to strengthen policy making.

IMAGE; Dust fall limits are among the proposed air quality legislation measures. Methods of measuring dust fall require specialist occupational hygiene techniques, equipment, and a sustained programme, integrated with other methods of measuring exposure in real work situations, like dust and fume sampling buttons, applied to find average levels and duration of exposure.

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