If you are a Gauteng local, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed a horrible odour in the air this week. Initially reported on the weekend, an unmistakable smell of sulphur has been detected across several suburbs in the province. On Wednesday, local weather services issued an ‘unhealthy air quality alert’ for sensitive groups.
Air quality alert for Gauteng on Wednesday 17 February
Children, asthmatics, people with lung or heart diseases, and the elderly have all been designated ‘high risk’ – and this is the last thing anyone needs while there’s a respiratory pandemic taking place. Although Gauteng Weather confirmed that the air quality remains ‘OK’ for healthy adults, their warning will remain in place for at least the remainder of Wednesday:
ALERT: UNHEALTHY AIR QUALITY LEVEL FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in GAUTENG WEDNESDAY, as SULPHUR STENCH CONTINUES!!!
HIGH RISK GROUPS:
•Those with lung disease
•Those with heart disease
Air quality levels considered ‘OK’ for healthy adults
— Gauteng Weather (@tWeatherSA) February 17, 2021
What is causing that foul smell in Gauteng?
According to the weather experts, Gauteng is at the mercy of sustained winds and increased emissions. Mpumalanga is something of a pollution hot-spot in South Africa, and is home to several power plants and industrial behemoths. The sulphur smell is believed to be coming from a south-easterly direction, pushed along by stiff breezes:
“Continued south-easterly winds point to stench coming from Mpumalanga, possibly Emalahleni or Secunda. The province is a pollution hot-spot, due to large industrial and electrical plants in these areas – so the smell may emanate from there.”
“It is also worth noting that the government doubled the permitted sulphur dioxide emissions level on 1 April 2020. That’s the gas responsible for the ‘eggy’ stench Gauteng has been experiencing for the past week.”
‘Sulphur in the air’ leaves vulnerable groups exposed
As you’d expect, residents of Gauteng are up in arms about the smell of sulphur polluting their province. With air quality compromised, the foul stench continues to linger in various parts of the region – and the anger is palpable…
The fact that we're in a respiratory-affecting pandemic, now we need to deal with sulphur air pollution which also f**ks up your respiratory system. If you're in Gauteng, please try double masking or the N95 one this whole week
— Pammy (@Poonky_) February 17, 2021
The sulphur smell will pass, the real danger is the cloud of black soot constantly hovering over central Gauteng & being inhaled over a long period, plus the fact that Joburg is the most radioactive habited city in the world, that danger you can’t smell but its deadlier.
— Sokhulu (@BonganiNtuli) February 17, 2021