Vereeniging is among the world's most polluted cities - data reveals

Vereeniging is one of the most polluted cities in the world. File Picture: Pexels

Vereeniging is one of the most polluted cities in the world. File Picture: Pexels

Published Mar 7, 2024


Vereeniging is one of the most polluted cities in the world.

This is according to Bloomberg Green analysis of data from non-profit OpenAQ.

The data goes on to say Vereeniging regularly registers the highest concentration of microscopic emissions known as PM2.5.

PM refers to particulate matter, which is a common proxy indicator for air pollution.

What is the cause of the air pollution?

It is worth noting that the air pollution crisis affects the entire Vaal Triangle region.

While South Africa takes steps to combat environmental pollution, the air pollution is caused by namely the smoke emissions from ArcelorMittal Vanderbijlpark Works steel mill, clouds of ash and toxic sulfur dioxide from Eskom’s Lethabo power station and the stench of hydrogen sulfide from Sasol and the surrounding industrial area.

The air pollution is believed to affect a staggering 1.7 million residents.

Their emissions reach levels so extreme that Vereeniging is ranked among the world's most polluted cities.

How does it affect human health and what will be done about it?

Exposure to air pollution may result in a host of illnesses, including respiratory illnesses, cancer and even premature death.

Efforts to address the crisis are under way, with the South African government imposing tougher pollution standards and international initiatives that are funding the transition away from coal.

What does WHO say on the matter?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is one of the greatest environmental risks to health.

WHO said by reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.

They added that the combined effects of ambient air pollution and household air pollution are associated with 6.7 million premature deaths around the world annually.

However, the path to cleaner air remains fraught with challenges, leaving residents yearning for accountability and compensation from the industrial giants responsible for their suffering.

As the world grapples with the urgent need for environmental sustainability, the plight of residents in the Vaal Triangle serves as a reminder of the human costs of unchecked industrial pollution.