Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) has attributed the poor quality of air in Rubavu district to human activities contrary to earlier reports suggesting the recent Nyiragongo eruption as the eminent cause.
The Nyiragongo active volcano located in Goma in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) erupted in May last year causing an air contamination and destruction of property in communities on the Rwanda and DRC border areas.
The recent report from the Volcanological Observatory of Goma (OVG) of 2021 displayed the air and water quality as poor during this period of the end-of-year festivities, but said there is nothing to worry because the scientists were closely monitoring the situation on the ground.
Following this report, Rwanda deployed teams with six additional mobile air quality monitoring units to assess the quality of the air in Rubavu District and the water quality of Lake Kivu.
A field report released yesterday showed that the quality of the air in Rubavu District is currently unhealthy, with increased levels of particulate matter (PM 2.5) being recorded over the last three days.
However, the REMA report stated that this is likely the result of human activity such as pollution from motorised transport, wood and charcoal burning rather than volcanic activity, which would have led to increased levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2).
“Due to the poor air quality, residents in Rubavu District are encouraged to continue wearing masks and limit outdoor physical activity where possible,” reads part of the statement adding, “Rwandans are also encouraged to download the Rwanda Air Quality Index mobile application from the Google Play Store or visit aq.rema.gov.rw for real time updates on air quality across the country,” the authority said in a press statement.
However, on the quality of water, REMA findings indicated that the water quality of Lake Kivu remains stable with no observable changes from the long term average.
REMA in collaboration with other stakeholders said in a statement that the acidity (pH), conductivity, oxygen concentration and turbidity of Lake Kivu during this period of increased volcanic activity will also be monitored and results will be shared with the public.
Following the May 2021 Nyiragongo eruption, Rwanda deployed two mobile units to monitor that air quality in the Rubavu area after several citizens reported fears of getting sick due to clouds of volcanic dust which normally contains hazardous minerals like sulfur dioxide.
The team monitor pollutants including sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) O3, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ammonia ( NH3) and noise with measurement of all meteorological Parameters (Temperature, Relative Humidity, Pressure, Wind Speed and Wind Direction).
They also do a basic water quality parameter checks especially water acidity (PH), temperature, turbidity, suspended and dissolved volcanic solids (TSS & TDS).