There are various sources of air pollution in Fiji which include (in order of the gravity of the problem): Vehicle emissions Open Burning – Burning of dumpsites and Backyard burning or burning of household waste (domestic) Industrial emissions Agricultural burning Incinerators Cooking in open stoves (wooden stoves) Emissions from shipping vessels Dust from gravel roads
The above order was established upon the number of complaints received, visual observations and studies carried out. As mentioned before, it was discovered under a project for the preparation of the National Implementation Plan (NIP) for the Stockholm Convention in Fiji by the Department of Environment, that open burning of organic waste is the main contributor of “dioxin,” a POPs chemical which is highlighted for elimination under the Stockholm Convention.
Furthermore burning of carcasses, cigarette smoking, cooking in “Lovo pits” and crematory practices also contribute towards air pollution but these are usually at a lower level or beyond the scope of this strategy as they are culturally sensitive issues or issues which cannot be controlled.
Additionally, the National Fire Authority (NFA) carries out fire extinguishing drills which in certain cases utilize tires and various types of fuel. This being an important form of training for the fire officers and for disaster management etc may be excluded from the scope of this strategy.
Sources of air pollution have been divided into rural and urban sections in this strategy due to the differing daily practices of its inhabitants.
Open burning of waste has been identified, as mentioned under the IWP and DoE projects, as a major source of air pollution in rural communities as well as squatter settlements as they do not have a waste collection system that is available in the urban areas.
Another source of pollution in rural area especially villages is from the diesel generators that are there under the rural electrification project by the Department of Energy. Villagers have been complaining about emissions from these generators.
While this is a problem in the rural area which do not have tar sealed roads, two major solutions would be to tar seal the roads or to wet them in extreme dry seasons to prevent dust issues. However both solutions are highly costly and not practical as yet, for the Government.
For Fiji’s urban areas, vehicle emissions is amongst the most common and offensive forms of pollution. There are large and increasing numbers of small entities, particularly motor vehicles, contributing to the background levels of air pollution. This pollution is strongly suspected to be increasing – but in the absence of regular monitoring specifically of pollutants in the air originating from vehicle emission, this cannot be quantified.
“Smoke is the visible component of particulate emissions. Where there is smoke there will likely be high emission of non-visual particles as well. The smaller particulates, especially those less than μm2.5 (a human hair is around 100-200μm in diameter) are of particular concern as they can penetrate deep within the lungs. Some particulates from vehicles are known carcinogens. There are also other vehicular emissions to consider including the air quality-related gaseous emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOC), sometimes also referred to as hydrocarbons (HC), and global-related emissions species such as carbon dioxide (CO2) “.
A study on motor vehicle emissions and actions plans to rectify the situation was carried out by the Department of Environment in 2004 with Mr. Andrew Campbell, a consultant based in New Zealand. The action plans set out realistic and achievable measures through which vehicle emissions can be reduced. An example of the implementation of these action plans is the recent introduction of new standards for sulfur content in diesel by Ministry of Commerce.
The practice of burning household trash in a burn barrel, open pile, primitive incinerator, or wood stove does not allow for the control of dioxin emissions. Surveys show open burning is widespread around Fiji. The United States Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) places open burning first in rank ahead of municipal and medical waste incinerator emissions. Open burning occurs mostly in rural areas, often close to agriculture but in Fiji it was observed that much open burning is conducted by residents in rural and townships and villages as well as cities. Therefore, it may disproportionately contribute to dioxin exposure in food. Burning of solid waste dumps is another significant source of air pollution in Fiji . Burning of household rubbish
Quantifying open burning dioxin emissions and their proximity to agriculture should be important to reducing human exposure. Yet little information exists on the emission rates from actual open burning or even from experimental simulations. Virtually no information exists on whether those who practice open burning preferentially burn materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics or exclude them from burning. Observations in Fiji clearly show there is little or no preferential burning. Experimental studies show that under open burning conditions, PVC content positively correlates with dioxin emissions. Burning of tin cans is harmful as well.
As mentioned previously in this strategy complaints of industries contributing towards air pollution has been report since 1987 and perhaps even before then. Industries which come under scrutiny include: cement factories, Quarries, sugar mills, food manufacturers, breweries and major laundries. A list of industries which can cause air pollution is given in Appendix 2. The emissions and hence the control measures of these industries would differ depending on the type of operation of the industry and the fuel used. Emissions can range from carbon dioxide to sulfur dioxide etc.
This mainly constitutes burning of agricultural crops, namely the sugar cane fields. In Fiji the major reason cited for this is that it makes harvesting easier for the harvesters who otherwise face the threat from pests like hornets. However with the cane fields sprayed with pesticides, herbicides etc. this makes burning of the sugar cane both a health and an environmental hazard. Another form of burning which can be categorized under agricultural burning is the bushfires/wildfires or the burning of forest. It is understood that in majority of the cases these are unintentional and perhaps not as significant. Presently there are no legislations for any authority to address them or their prevention and it is difficult to identify the offenders.
Incinerators emit poisonous gases, heavy metals, and dozens of organic contaminants. Medical incinerators, in addition to the above, may also emit pathogens, cytotoxins, and radioactive diagnostic materials. They tend to have particularly high levels of mercury and dioxin. Particles (soot, smoke) are released when combustion has been incomplete. Fine particulates with diameters less than 10 um are of the most concern because they are small enough to be inhaled and affect the lungs of people.
Medical and infectious waste is waste generated by research, vaccination clinics, medical and dental activities, and refers to blood-related waste, such as used needles and blood bags. Solid waste generated at clinics, such as kitchen waste,
cardboard, and files are not medical waste. Hospital waste is medical and infectious waste that is generated by a facility with 6 or more beds. Pathological waste is human or animal anatomical remains, tissues, or body fluids and the plastic packaging that contains it. Low level radioactive waste refers to x-ray equipment and waste from radio-isotope use or radio-immunoassays. Chemotherapeutic wastes are pharmaceuticals used in chemotherapy. In addition, dioxins and furans preferentially adsorb on to them. Metals, acids, and other organics adsorb to them as well. The amount of particles emitted varies with the moisture content of the waste and the design of the incinerator.
Incineration in schools is another source of air pollution. It is the case today that most of the schools have crude incinerators where they burn all their rubbish from the classrooms as well as from the school compounds. These are burnt in crude incinerators which are present in most schools around Fiji. Crude incinerators are those that are not designed to protect the environment or to reduce harmful emissions. They just reduce the size and volume of waste not it‟s environmental or health impacts.
Accidental fires, burning of carcasses, cigarette smoking and crematory practices also contribute towards air pollution but these are usually at a lower level or beyond the scope of this strategy as they are culturally sensitive issues or issues which cannot be controlled. The practice of burning household trash in a burn barrel, open pile, primitive wood stove does not allow for the control of dioxin emissions.
Another source of air pollution that has been noted is the emissions from ships that harbor at the wharf. It has often been noted that ships that leave the various wharfs also leave behind huge trails of smoke. The Fiji Islands Maritime and Safety Administration (FIMSA) have indicated that this will be dealt with under the Marine Act. As for Air Pollution from SOLSA (Safety of Life At Sea 74 Convention, the amendments of 78, and its protocols. Convention Ships, Fiji has ratified this Convention, and has incorporated the Coventions requirements into the Marine Act 1986), FIMSA is still in the process of ratifying MARPOL 73/78 (Convention on Marine Pollution), before they could implement the requirements of its Annexes.
Smell from the sewage treatment plants are also targeted by this strategy and the levels of Hydrogen Sulfide, the major source of odor from sewerage treatment plants, will be monitored as required under the standards to rectify this situation.