Yangon’s traffic congestion is a major factor in fouling the city’s air, experts say. Speaking at an air quality seminar, Dr Than Htut, a retired head of the Occupational Health Unit, said it was the most important of three major causes of air pollution, the other two being electricity distribution and industry.
Particles and dust known as PM10, detected in quality control tests around the city, could cause respiratory diseases and chronic lung ailments, he said.
Daw Than Than Win, deputy head of Yangon City Development Committee’s Environmental Conservation Department, told the seminar at the Health Museum on February 19 that a range of harmful gases, including sulphur dioxide, had been detected.
Yangon began monitoring its air quality in 2007. The ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (AWGESE), the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) and YCDC had begun working together to test air quality in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw in 2012. Testing is still proceeding in 22 separate locations.
The four air quality testing instruments in use measured 11 factors: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, relative humidity, nitrogen dioxide, hydrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, particulate metal 10 micron (PM10), PM 2.5, wind speed, wind direction and temperature. Yangon air is marked by the presence of PM10, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, she said.
The heaviest concentrations were in industrial zones in Hlaing Tharyar and Thilawa.
However, air pollution in Yangon is still less than that in large cities in neighbouring countries.