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Minister Edna Molewa supports the Safe Paraffin Appliance Campaign

01 August 2016

 

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, supports the Safe Paraffin Appliance Campaign launched by the Department of Trade and Industry on 27 July 2016.

The Campaign is aimed at raising levels of awareness about illegal manufacturing and distribution of unsafe paraffin products, such as sub-standard paraffin stoves.

“The Safe Paraffin Appliance Campaign is an indication of the commitment by government to ensure that particularly disadvantaged communities are safer and less likely to lose their homes to fires in winter. It is also in line with the Draft Strategy to Address Air Pollution in Dense Low-Income Settlements that is aimed at introducing a coordinated government approach to reducing air pollution,” said Minister Molewa.

Air pollution monitoring data has shown that there are some geographic areas within the country, where ambient air quality standards are being exceeded and this is posing a threat to human health and the environment in those areas. 

The household use of some fossil fuels, or dirty fuels, are a major contributor to ambient air quality standards being exceeded in residential areas.

While the problem of residential air pollution is more often than not, associated dense low-income settlements, living conditions and the ability of poorer communities to afford cleaner energy resources are also major contributors.

Air pollution is known to cause illnesses such bronchitis, asthma exacerbation, underweight babies cardiovascular diseases, etc. and death.

The evidence of negative health impacts and mortality from domestic fuel burning is in South Africa has not been properly documented but the existence of these negative impacts cannot be disputed. People living below the poverty line bear practically the entire burden of this health risk. The additional illness- related costs to those affected terms of diminished quality of life and lost capacity to work are also significant.

According to the Draft Strategy to Address Air Pollution in Dense Low-Income Settlements, a local study revealed air pollution related health can cost government approximately R2 Billion per year especially in the winter months (May -July).

To address this, the Draft Strategy for Addressing Air Pollution in Dense Low-Income Communities of South Africa was published in Government Gazette No. 40088 (Notice 356 of 2016) for public comment earlier this month. 

The public have until 23 August 2016 to submit comments on the proposed strategy that seeks to provide a dedicated, focused approach to deal with high levels of pollution in some of the densely populated low-income communities.  This will support the suite of existing instruments to reduce air pollution in the country, which include emissions standards set in terms of the Air Quality Act to control industrial emissions, alternative energy strategies implemented by Department of Energy, air quality offsets implemented by industries etc.

Past and present air quality monitoring data has shown that air quality in various South African communities is not in compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards. This means that people living in those communities are not enjoying their Constitutional right to air that is not harmful to health and well-being. For most of these areas, air quality standards are usually exceeded during winter months as more people start burning fossil fuels to warm their homes.

The burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal, wood and paraffin for cooking and heating in the homes, is one of the contributors to poor air. Fossil fuel burning contributes to emissions that pollute the air at the breathing zone and therefore results in adverse health impacts for both adults and children. Those with pre-existing respiratory disorders such as asthma and cancer are worst affected.

The proposed Strategy emphasises a coordinated approach to dealing with air quality concerns and reducing emissions from household fuel burning.  This includes cooperation between the Departments of Environmental Affairs, Health, Human Settlement and trade and industry, as well as provincial departments, municipalities, industry, Non-Governmental and Community-Based Organisations. . 

 “The Safe Paraffin Appliance Campaign is encouraging as it supports the proposal in the Draft Strategy for the use of technology to meet required energy output without comprising the level of convenience for communities, particularly those reliant on braziers that are more often than not the cause of devastating fires in informal settlements,” said Minister Molewa.

Among the proposals in the Draft Strategy are the use of Solar Water Heating systems in low-income communities, and the implementation of, and research into, clean stoves for cooking and clean fuels for those stoves.

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871