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Gov't earmarks $9m to strengthen national air quality programme

Monday, April 23, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Government will be spending $9 million this year to strengthen the National Air Quality Management Programme.

The money will be used to, among other things, expand Jamaica's monitoring regime and build technical capacity to further bolster and enhance procedures, protocols and standards.

This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, in a speech read by Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Lt Col Oral Khan, during the opening ceremony for a five-day ambient air quality workshop at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, today.

Vaz said despite several achievements with respect to the Programme's implementation, a number of areas remain to be addressed.

These, he pointed out, include: expanding the monitoring network to incorporate regions outside the Kingston Metropolitan Area, Montego Bay, May Pen, Spanish Town and Mandeville; expanding the number of pollutants being monitored to include gaseous substances (currently only particulate matter is monitored); and developing the capacity to conduct elemental speciation.

Other areas, the minister said, include: publishing an Air Quality Index which provides daily information to the public on air quality in their respective areas as also precautionary measures for personal protection; implementing strategies to reduce pollutants being emitted by various sources, including a licensing and monitoring regime; and establishing air-sheds to limit emissions in specific areas.

The National Environment and Planning Agency is the programme's coordinator and primary implementer.

Meanwhile, Vaz advised that the ministry has developed a draft Emissions Policy Framework for Jamaica.

The policy, which was developed last year, provides directives for the regulation of emissions from major sectors, including electricity, transportation and industry.

“It is anticipated that the draft policy framework will be approved by Cabinet as a Green Paper and be opened up for public consultations early this financial year,” the minister said.

The ambient air quality workshop aims to deliver a short and intensive training exercise on the basic concepts of environmental epidemiology, with focus on assessing the impact of air pollution on health using the AirQ+ tool developed by the World Health Organization.

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