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Aug 17, 2018

DOE to Monitor Air Quality in Belize

The responsibility of the Department of the Environment is to protect Belize’s environment from all sources of pollution—land, water, air and noise.  And while a lot of work has been done to address land, water and noise pollution, there is still a lot more to do about the air.  One of the ways that the department is going about this is to find out just what exactly is in the air we breathe.  Research and data are lacking and so, they are implementing various activities to reduce the threats of pollution.  This week, D.O.E. hosted a training led by a consultant who is leading the charge to strengthen the capacity of Belize’s air quality monitoring capabilities.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The ambient air that you breathe everyday contains life supporting gases like oxygen and nitrogen. But it may also contain chemicals that can be dangerous to your health. But in Belize, we don’t really know what is in the air in its natural state and that is why the Department of Environment wants to monitor the air quality by implementing a monitoring system. To get ready for that, a two-day training was held on Wednesday and Thursday to develop a draft monitoring programme.


Henry Alegria

Henry Alegria, Associate Professor, U.S.F.

“One of the problems is that we don’t really have any data, any scientific data on what levels of pollutants that are known to be data – we don’t have them in Belize. And so, in order to get that data, you have to set up a monitoring programme and that is why DOE wants to improve on its capacity to be able to deliver that to the public, to be able to tell them whether the air they are breathing is safe or not and that then involves the principles of how you go about setting up one of these air monitoring programs.”


Monitoring the air quality will help authorities to understand and prevent air pollution, as well as to assess emission sources. This will help to preserve human, animal and plant life.


Lisa Yontinen

Lisa Yontinen, Scientist, Environment Canada

“We set out to just give some idea of how important air quality is to our health, to plants and actually as an economy, and as a whole. If you don’t have good air quality it can cost the healthcare system, the agriculture system and then it costs the economy in so many different ways.”


Air pollution is a global problem. It affects human life and the environment, as well as some material property. And while the DOE has done some ground work in air quality monitoring- the department says that it is very imperative that air quality controls are implemented because as Belize develops the threat of air pollution increases.


Anthony Mai

Anthony Mai, Environmental Officer, DOE

“As Belize develops and becomes more industrialized, the risk from air pollution will become more apparent and it will increase as well. It is a risk to human health and the environment, so it is important that as of now we learn and 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 DOE, in 2015 and 2016, did a pilot study in Belize City where we sampled the air quality for an entire year and so we got the results of that and we have consultants in country who are interpreting this data and will be generating a report. And so, for Belize City we have a baseline – this is what the ambient air quality of Belize City is at this time and so hopefully we will do another one in the future and so we could compare the results if the air quality is getting worse or if it is getting better. And so, every so often we will do the monitoring for us to be able to develop projections in terms of the various air quality parameters.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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