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There is a lot of interesting information about air quality on the air pollution map for Vereeniging and t is easily found. At the top of the main city page is a map icon which, when selected, will open a new page filled with facts and figures about the current air quality.
Once this new page first opens, the viewer will be met with a solid-coloured background which itself is a direct indication of the current air quality. Colours can range from pale green to dark maroon and are used as a standard across the IQAir website. Their full meaning is shown in the legend at the foot of the page. Currently, the background is yellowish/green which tells the viewer that the air quality is “Moderate”.
The user will also notice that there are some coloured discs overlaid over the city. These represent the sites of the ground-level air monitoring stations which provide the city with its data about air quality. In the centre of each disc is a number which is the United States Air Quality Index reading or US AQI for short.
This is worked out by taking readings of up to six of the most commonly found pollutants in the city air. These are usually both sizes of Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Once this US AQI number has been determined, it is used as a standard when comparing air quality in different cities across the globe. It is endorsed and encouraged by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Each station can be explored individually because, when selected, they will reveal a lot of information about air quality in that specific area of the city. This can be useful when travelling.
Looking back at the main city page, the coloured band across the top of it shows the current air quality. The number displayed is 53 which determines the air quality is currently “Moderate”. The yellow colour of the banner also tells the viewer that the air quality is “Moderate” too. Out of the five measured pollutants, it was PM2.5 which was found to be the main one with a recorded level of 13.1 µg/m³ (microns per cubic metre). This level is over two and a half times the suggested target figure of 5 µg/m³ as recommended by the WHO.
Immediately below the air pollution map for Vereeniging can be seen the number of contributors there are and the number of stations they operate. Currently, there are two stations in the city which are operated by the South African Air Quality Information System which is a government-controlled body.
These are a lot of facts and figures about air quality on the air pollution map for Vereeniging. To gain access to all of these, the page needs to be viewed at full size. An icon will be seen at the top of the page which, when selected, will re-open the page at full size so all the information can be seen.
Down the left-hand side of the screen will be seen a list of four options which can each be turned on or off to see the effects they each have on the map.
The first option shows the positions of the ground-level air quality monitoring stations which are operated by the city. The ones that are seen on the map in the south west can each be explored individually and are filled with information about that area.
The next option shows the position of any wildfires there are that happen to be burning out of control in the region. There is currently one burning to the west of the city. This is when option four needs to be consulted because it shows the speed and direction of the prevailing winds and will give a good indication of where the ensuing smoke may drift.
The third option changes the colour of the map to indicate the present air quality. If it is good, then pale colours will become the backdrop to the page, but darker colours appear when the air quality gets worse. If the dark colours are too distracting, the option can be deactivated whereupon the map will revert to a more neutral set of colours.
There are more facts and figures about air pollution on the right-hand side of the screen. A table will be found here which ranks the seven most polluted cities in the world, according to their air quality readings. The rest of the participating cities can be found by opening the full-ranking section where they will appear in descending order.
Directly below the contributor’s category is the section which shows where the most polluted monitoring stations are according to the readings obtained by them. Currently, the most polluted area is in the vicinity of the Sharpeville station which published the US AQI reading of 47 which is classified as being “Good”.
Below that is a section which shows which the most popular stations are according to the number of followers they have. The most popular one is currently Sharpeville with 37 loyal followers.
Whilst the direct source of the polluted air is not seen on the air quality map for Vereeniging, it is well-known that these sources include power generation activities, industrial processes, waste disposal, transport (private and public), biomass burning (the burning of living or dead plant material, including grassland, forest, agricultural waste and the burning of biomass for fuel), domestic fuels, landfills, wastewater treatment and agriculture.
Fine particles ("Particle Matter") are a significant source of air pollution that damages the heart and lungs in particular. The size of these particles is about 2.5 micrometres in diameter and even smaller, and can easily penetrate deep into the lungs as well as in the cardiovascular system which causes inflammation. It is also suspected that particles contribute to cardiovascular problems by helping atherosclerosis, which can lead to the narrowing of blood vessels, as well as cardiovascular inflammation and an increase in blood clots. The consequences of this are hypertension, heart attacks, heart failure and strokes. Air pollution is therefore a serious problem that affects all people's health.