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Sustainability for Seychelles to expand air quality monitoring 

Victoria, Seychelles | April 1, 2024, Monday @ 09:10 in Environment » GENERAL | By: Alisa Uzice Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 7951
Sustainability for Seychelles to expand air quality monitoring 

Sam delivered a presentation on air quality monitoring and the installation of air quality sensors across Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue last year. (S4S Facebook)

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Sustainability for Seychelles (S4S), a non-governmental organisation, intends to expand on the air quality monitoring project it started last November to gain a clearer picture of how good the island nation's air quality is and determine where action should be taken.

One of the board members of S4S, Marie-Therese Purvis, told SNA that initially, to finance this project, the organisation applied to the National Grants Fund and to expand the project they intend to apply for this grant once again this year.

"We are thinking about it. We want to install more sensors in public places especially in places with a lot of industry and human activity to get a clearer picture of the actual air quality in the country," she said.

For this project, S4S has installed several sensors on the three main islands of the Seychelles; Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.

The project's manager, Laurent Sam, said that S4S "together with the Seychelles Meteorological Authority (SMA), S4) has installed 13 air quality sensors on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. The data is uploaded to a website in real time and is freely available to the general public at https://aqicn.org/station/@421597/). The website also shows the air quality in over 6,000 cities in 118 countries."

Once touted for being the country with the best quality of air in the world as per the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2016, eight years later, Sam said this is no longer the case.

Air quality is measured with the Air Quality Index (AQI), which works like a thermometre from 0 to 500 degrees. Instead of showing changes in the temperature, it shows changes in the amount of pollution in the air – classified in colours and is based on measurement of particulate matter (PM).  

"The Yale Environmental Performance Index, which once ranked Seychelles as having the best air in the world, has more recently ranked us 97th for PM2.5 pollution, the type of air pollution that is most monitored worldwide, and 36th for air quality in general," he explained.

Sam said the study of S4S is still in its initial phases with only four months of data and therefore it is not enough data to set a baseline. He added that although there is no data over the last eight years since the 2016 EPI study to make a comparison, there are certain factors that could be the cause of a decline in air quality.

"Almost all of the PM2.5 pollutants come from combustion activities, and we know that the number of registered road vehicles has doubled over the last 8 years, our electricity consumption has more than doubled since 2000, the number of flights and shipping has all doubled. This is a natural consequence of the growth of our economy, and no one wishes to be 50 percent worse off for sure," Sam added. 

He said that although there is no long-term data "we can see from the initial readings that the air quality in Seychelles spans a large range. The AQI (Air Quality Index) reached a minimum of 5 in December to a high of 91 in February. The WHO recommendation is that the daily average AQI should not exceed 20."

Sam said a lot of that is influenced by the weather as during heavy rainfall, the pollutants are washed out of the air and it is really clean. However, during a dry and hot period, especially when there is not a lot of wind, the air pollutants can accumulate and lead to really bad air quality.

He emphasised the importance of mitigating these challenges now rather than later and said, "With the technologies that are now readily available to us, economic development does not have to be linked to increased combustion activities. We have an opportunity to invert this relationship. Actions to improve air quality will increase our economic productivity and growth."

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Tags: Sustainability for Seychelles, Seychelles Meteorological Authority, Air Quality Index

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