Air Pollution on the Copperbelt Province of Zambia: Effects of Sulphur Dioxide on Vegetation and Humans

School of Natural Resources, Copperbelt University, Kitwe, Zambia; School of Mines and Mineral Science, s Copperbelt University, Kitwe, Zambia
Journal of Natural & Environmental Sciences 06/2012; 3:34-41.

ABSTRACT People residing near mines, smelting and other gas polluting industries are exposed to a variety of pollutants that affect their health and livelihood. Vegetable production has largely been unsuccessful due to the accumulation of heavy metals, copper, in the soil as well as sulphur dioxide (SO 2) on plants. SO 2 concentration measurements in flue gases and on the bark ofAustralian red cedar (ToonaCiliataRoem.) trees were taken to monitor compliance and to quantify accumulation of SO 2 in the environment. The quantity of SO 2 in copper smelter flue gases over a period of 5 months was determined by a gas analyser directly into parts per million. Points within 10 km radius of the emissions source and a control, which was 30 km away, were located with the aid of a global positioning system. Fifty grams of bark was manually removed at breast height from a sample of trees on line transects. The bark samples were roasted in a stream of air to convert SO 2 absorbed in a neutral solution of hydrogen peroxide into sulphuric acid. The SO 2 concentration levels of 1 402 µg/m 3 in raw flue gases exceeded the threshold value, 1 000 µg/m 3 , within a 4.4 km radius of the emissions source. Despite these measurements being obtained 25 km away from the bark collection area, they represented a worst-case scenario for certain mines on the Copperbelt province which continue releasing raw flue gas into the environment without control. Locations on the south-west and north-east of the emissions source recorded the highest SO 2 concentrations and, cases of necrosis and die-back were observed on trees in thesepoints.It was observed that the amount of polluting substance accumulating in the environment was dependent upon the distance from the emissions source and the prevailing wind direction. Despite the recent installation of environmentally sound technologies, SO 2 measurements under taken in this study provided a long-term impact assessment of pollutants accumulation and show points which are suitable for human settlements and herbal medicine bark harvesting near mines.

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    ABSTRACT: A global assessment of precipitation chemistry and deposition has been carried out under the direction of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Scientific Advisory Group for Precipitation Chemistry (SAG-PC). The assessment addressed three questions: (1) what do measurements and model estimates of precipitation chemistry and wet, dry and total deposition of sulfur, nitrogen, sea salt, base cations, organic acids, acidity, and phosphorus show globally and regionally? (2) has the wet deposition of major ions changed since 2000 (and, where information and data are available, since 1990) and (3) what are the major gaps and uncertainties in our knowledge? To that end, regionally-representative measurements for two 3-year-averaging periods, 2000–2002 and 2005–2007, were compiled worldwide. Data from the 2000–2002 averaging period were combined with 2001 ensemble-mean modeling results from 21 global chemical transport models produced in Phase 1 of the Coordinated Model Studies Activities of the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution (TF HTAP). The measurement data and modeling results were used to generate global and regional maps of major ion concentrations in precipitation and deposition. A major product of the assessment is a database of quality assured ion concentration and wet deposition data gathered from regional and national monitoring networks. The database is available for download from the World Data Centre for Precipitation Chemistry ( The assessment concludes that global concentrations and deposition of sulfur and nitrogen are reasonably well characterized with levels generally highest near emission sources and more than an order of magnitude lower in areas largely free of anthropogenic influences. In many parts of the world, wet deposition of reduced nitrogen exceeds that of oxidized nitrogen and is increasing. Sulfur and nitrogen concentrations and deposition in North America and Europe have declined significantly in line with emission reduction policies. Major regions of the world, including South America, the more remote areas of North America, much of Asia, Africa, Oceania, polar regions, and all of the oceans, are inadequately sampled for all of the major ions in wet and dry deposition, and particularly so for phosphorus, organic forms of nitrogen, and weak acids including carbonates and organic acids. Measurement-based inferential estimates of dry deposition are limited to sulfur and some nitrogen in only a few regions of the world and methods are highly uncertain. The assessment concludes with recommendations to address major gaps and uncertainties in global ion concentration and deposition measurements.
    Atmospheric Environment 08/2014; 93:3–100. · 3.11 Impact Factor


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