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EMA: PoS air at safe levels

Published: 
Friday, January 31, 2014
Customers find the doors to the Royal Bank of Canada’s Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, branch locked tight yesterday, after the bank took the decision to send home its employees due to the toxic fumes which engulfed the capital from a fire on the Beetham landfill. PHOTO: MARRYANN AUGUSTE

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) yesterday said the air quality in Port-of-Spain had stabilised, although authorities were still working to put out the remaining fire at the Beetham landfill. The fire created another cloud of toxic smoke over the capital for a fourth straight day, forcing scores of citizens to flee the city once again. 

With respect to the air-quality tests, the EMA said they monitored the air for:
• particulate matter
• volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
• carbon monoxide 
• sulphur dioxide. 

It said particulate matter speaks to the size of the particles that contribute to poor air quality and the size of particles that will affect the most vulnerable among the population—asthmatics and those with prevailing lung infections. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), it noted, can be carcinogenic or cancer-causing agents, while carbon monoxide can cause asphyxia. It assured the public that the tests revealed these components were at safe and acceptable levels, in accordance with the EMA’s Draft Air Pollution Rules, within the Port-of-Spain area up to yesterday. The EMA said, however, that the testing will continue and the public will notified if any changes occur.