rescued vulture released

National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act 39 of 2004 or NEMAQA is the specific environmental management act aiming to:

  • Protect and enhance the quality of air in South Africa; and
  • Prevent air pollution: NEMAQA defines air pollution as: any change in the composition of the air caused by smoke, soot, dust (including fly ash), cinders, solid particles of any kind, gases, fumes, aerosols and odorous substances.

Did you know?

NEMAQA creates six air quality management measures: priority areas, listing of activities resulting in atmospheric emissions, controlled emitters, controlled fuels, other measures (like pollution prevention plans) and measures regarding dust, noise and offensive odours. You can find more information on these in chapter 4 of NEMAQA.

As noted above, one of the air quality management measures created in NEMAQA is the declaration of priority areas. The Minister or MEC may declare an area a priority if:

  • Ambient air quality standards are being, or may be, exceeded in the area, or any other situation exists which is causing, or may cause, a significant negative impact on air quality in the area; and
  • The area requires specific air quality management action to rectify the situation.

There are three declared priority areas: Vaal Triangle-Airshed Priority Area, Highveld Priority Area and the Waterberg – Bojanala Priority Area. The Highveld Priority Area was the focus of the Deadly Air case.

Another air quality management measures created in NEMAQA is list of activities which result in atmospheric emissions, you can access the section 21 activities here and you require an atmospheric emission licence to conduct any of these activities, please see chapter 5 of NEMAQA for more information on atmospheric emission licences and the process to apply for them.

In terms of section 29, the Minister or MEC may declare a substance contributing to air pollution as a priority air pollutant and require pollution prevention plans be prepared for the priority air pollutant. In 2017 greenhouse gasses were declared priority air pollutants: Declaration of Greenhouse Gases as Priority Air Pollutants.

The Minister has made a number of regulations under NEMAQA, you can access some of them here: