RANGOON — Information on Rangoon’s air quality will be released around next May, according to the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC).
The YCDC environmental conservation and sanitation department has been monitoring air quality in Burma’s commercial capital since April last year and plans to continue monitoring until next April, according to deputy department head Dr. Aung Myint Maw.
The city’s air quality index will be calculated according to the levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen peroxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, methane and particulate matter (PM) in the air in line with WHO guidelines.
“We have measured [air quality] in 67 places across Rangoon,” Dr. Aung Myint Maw told The Irrawaddy. “On average, the levels of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide are slightly higher than [WHO] standards,”
Levels of carbon dioxide and methane were particularly high in areas of garbage dumping, ditches, and trees while the carbon monoxide level was high at intersections prone to traffic congestion, he said.
Nitrogen peroxide and sulfur dioxide were also found in the air while the level of particulate matter (PM) was high near construction sites, he added.
YCDC has installed three air pollution monitors—one near Rangoon city hall, one on the Hledan overpass and the third outside the Mingaladon Township administration office. The fourth is a mobile unit deployed at various locations in the city, including industrial zones.
According to Rangoon-based general practitioner Dr. Zarni Maung, coarse dust particles are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter, and fine particles are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. The particles are so small that they can get into lungs, potentially causing health problems, especially chronic breathing problems.
“The worst result of air pollution is—if people are exposed to polluted air for a long time—that they suffer from breathing problems, which can result in premature death,” he told The Irrawaddy.
“Even if air pollution is not that serious, people can suffer from headaches, itchy eyes, sore throat and vomiting,” he added.
Dr. Aung Myint Maw said that the data would cover every township in Rangoon as YCDC was measuring air pollution levels at one-mile intervals.
Upon release of the air quality index, YCDC will report to concerned government authorities and lawmakers so that further action can be taken, he said.