Characterisation of Air Pollution on Trinidad’s North-West Coast (San Fernando to Port-of-Spain)

Characterisation of Air Pollution on Trinidad’s North-West Coast (San Fernando to Port-of-Spain)

Air pollution is a complex mixture of poisonous gases and particulates that has been described as the world’s most serious environmental problem today, causing 7-10 million deaths globally per year [1,2]. Trinidad is the Caribbean’s most industrialised island, with a strong energy and petrochemical economy. In addition, seasonal Sahara dust has an effect (PM2.5). The baseline levels of fine and respirable particulates (three PM size fractions), as well as trace metals in PM, are characterised in this report. During the months of March and May, gaseous contaminants and meteorological parameters were measured at four locations along Trinidad’s densely populated west coast. Rural, commercial, mixed-use, and industrial land uses are represented by stations. At all four stations (n=522), annual mean levels of PM2.5 and PM10 in ambient air surpassed WHO standards for public health safety. Over 70% of the time sampled at urban and industrial sites, PM2.5 and PM10 surpass the WHO (2006) safe limit guidelines (PM2.5 is 10 g/m3, PM10 is 20 g/m3). The time of year and the position of the station were found to be the variables that influenced PM distribution and form (size fraction) according to factor analysis (land use). The industrial station had a distinct temporal trend for PM than the other three stations, with a consistent high level during the year.

Beryllium, cadmium, chromium, iron, manganese, and nickel were contained in excess of Canadian (Ontario) 2012 [3] levels in PM10. Since they are genotoxic carcinogens present in the smallest PM fractions, Cd and Ni were considered to pose the greatest danger to public health. CO, NH3, NO2, N2O, and C6H6 were among the gaseous contaminants of concern. The most abundant gases were nitrogen dioxide and benzene, which were found in the highest concentrations at the industrial and urban stations. Because of the large amount of industrial combustion gases in the ambient air in the Pt, NO2 exceedance averaged 89 percent (often 2-3 times the USEPA cap for public health protection). Lisa’s personal space. At the urban station (Port-of-Spain), benzene exceeded public health limit values >90% of the time, and at the mixed history station, it exceeded them >80% of the time (at San Fernando). Both gases are pollutant sources resulting from combustion and vehicle emissions. The pollutant data was used to develop and validate an aggregated Air Pollution Index (R2= 0.91) that could be applied to ongoing monitoring data in four statistically validated classification tiers: Good, Normal, High, and Very High. The industrial station has the most days with “extremely high” pollutant levels, as well as the most days with “healthy” air quality. The frequency of ‘normal’ to ‘high’ rankings was highest at the urban station. The overall air quality was much better at the rural station, as predicted. The worst months for air quality were June-July 2015 and December-January 2016. The best choice for driving data-driven decision making and successful air pollution control is to monitor data for air quality. The baseline levels of air pollutants are sufficient justification for revising existing local legislation to provide better public health safety from excessively high ambient air pollution levels.

Author(s) Details

Dr. Himawatee Baboolal
Centre for Environmental Studies and Applied Life Sciences, The University of Trinidad and Tobago, O’Meara Campus, Arima, Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr. Derrick Balladin
Centre for Environmental Studies and Applied Life Sciences, The University of Trinidad and Tobago, O’Meara Campus, Arima, Trinidad and Tobago

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