In an attempt to combat worsening air quality, Yangon City Development Committee is installing 15 air quality control machines throughout the city, assistant chief engineer of the pollution and cleansing department U Aung Myint Maw said.
The machines, which will measure levels of dust, carbon dioxide and a dozen other known pollutants, will be positioned in locations assessed to be the most polluted in the city, he said.
“Three permanent machines will be located at Maha Bandoola Garden, near the Hledan overpass and in Mingalardon township. Other locations will use mobile machines,” he said, adding that they had been bought under the committee’s annual budget.
“On the basis of the results, we will draw up a plan for reducing air pollution.”
A 2012 study conducted by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation found many places in Yangon where the air contained more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of dust, especially in the cold and dry seasons, exceeding WHO standards, said U Aung Myint Maw.
Coarse particulate matter – particles with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 10 micrometres (PM10) – was measured at 80 micrograms per cubic meter, above the WHO’s guideline level of 50 micrograms averaged over a 24-hour period.
But sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide concentrations were much lower than the WHO levels of 100 and 150 micrograms per cubic meter respectively, according to the Ministry of Health.
The 2012 readings were undertaken in January at Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone, the department’s office in Ahlone township and a residential area in Bahan township. While the department began measuring air pollution at three locations in 2009, it could not give earlier data for comparison.
But rates are likely to have risen since 2012 due to increases in population, car use and industrial output.
Yangon’s population of about 5.2 million represents more than 10 percent of the country’s total population of 51.2 million people. It is home to one third of all urban-dwellers and about 80pc of its cars. The city is ringed with 24 industrial zones, and population density is growing.
According to a World Bank survey, between 2000 and 2010, Yangon’s area grew from 370 to 390 square kilometres. Its population grew at a more robust 2.6pc a year, the World Bank said.
More details of the air quality improvement plan will be announced once the findings of the machines have been analysed.