The Department of the Environment is tasked with the responsibility of protecting Belize’s environment from all sources of pollution including land, water, air and noise. Many countries have poor quality of air which has an adverse effect on its citizens. The Department of the Environment is taking steps to ensure that the quality of life of our citizens are not threatened by air pollution. In this regard, Anthony Mai, the Environmental Officer for the Department of the Environment says a two-day workshop is being held to discuss how to strengthen the capacity of Belize’s air quality monitoring capabilities.
Anthony Mai – Environmental Officer, Department of the Environment: As Belize develops and becomes more industrialized, the risk from air pollution will become more apparent. It will increase as well the risk to human health and to the environment so it’s important that as of now we learn and we get all the relevant data that we need to ensure that we are safe from air pollution. In the past there hasn’t been much that has been done. The Department of Environment in 2015-2016 did a pilot study in Belize City where we sampled the air quality for the entire year. We got the results of that and we have consultants that are interpreting this data and will be generating a report so that we have a baseline for Belize City. This is what the ambient air quality of Belize City is as of this time and hopefully we will do another one in the future and so we can compare the results of air quality; if it’s getting worse, if it’s getting better. Every so often we will do the monitoring and then we will be able to develop production in terms of the various air quality parameters.
Henry Alegria, an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida spoke about maintaining good air quality in Belize.
Henry Alegria – Associate Professor, University of South Florida: One of the problem is that we don’t really have any data; any scientific data on what levels of pollutants that are known to be a problem .We don’t really have them in Belize and so in order to get that data you have to set up a monitoring program. That’s why DOE wants to improve on its capacity to be able to deliver that to the public; to be able to tell the public whether the air that they’re breathing is safe or not and that then involves the principles of how you go about setting up one of these air monitoring programs.
The two-day workshop is focusing on preparing a national air quality monitoring programme as well as training government, non-government and private sector personnel on air quality monitoring principles.