Industries pollute in several ways during the production process and in turn produce a large amount of waste products. Chemicals are burnt in order to produce the final products, and chemicals are then emitted into the air where communities are exposed. Industries dump their waste products in the nearest black Townships (land pollution), and this causes health impacts to communities that are residing adjacent to the dumpsite.
Suggestion for improvement:
Industries do not fully comply with the laws and bylaws that govern them because both the laws and law enforcers are too lenient. The laws should be revisited and adjusted to display stricter controls on polluting levels, as well as appropriate fines for companies that pollute according to their pollution emission levels.
My best suggestion is that the government needs to revisit the legislation and enforce industries in South Africa to comply with the legislation or suffer the consequences of non-compliance. In turn, this will improve people’s health, wellbeing and the country as a whole.
Some of the pollutants that are released from these chemical industries don’t have set standards or limits and are not regulated by the government or the World Health Organisation (WHO). When air samples are taken, we find high volumes of pollutants such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and this is a worrying factor.
We have encountered that South African law enforcement is very weak, specifically with environmental laws and the local authorities are very lenient with companies when they do wrong or compromise section 24A of the South African constitution.
Funding plays a major role in making our mission possible with regards to tracking and combating different types of pollution e.g. air, water and land pollution in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Available and sufficient funding enables us to take air bucket samples (air testing) which provide us with ammunition to challenge industries and relevant government officials.
Written by: SDCEA Air Quality Officer Bongani Mthembu