The Impact of Industrial Sources of Pollution in Trinidad and Tobago Essay

Introduction

The impact of air pollutants from industrial sources on the environment can potentially affect the population and their ecosystems. According to World Health Organization clean air is considered to be a basic requirement for wellbeing and human health. In spite of the introduction of cleaner technologies in industry, energy production and transport, air pollution remains a major health risk (WHO, 2000). This paper discusses the impact of industrial sources of pollution in Trinidad and Tobago which may be hazardous to public safety and health, or may be injurious to plant, animal and human life.

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Sources

Air pollutants in Trinidad and Tobago are commonly generated from industrial facilities and industrial processes. Typical sources include: oil refineries, power plants, chemical plants and steel mills. The amount of emissions are variously controlled, licensed and permitted emissions by the government, but there are also unanticipated pollutants or spurious leak from an industrial site that contribute to air pollution (Austin, 2001, pp.27-28).

Waste production indicator in Trinidad and Tobago is based on the amount of wastes produced by industrial processes and pollutants being generated or brought into the country. The municipal waste generated in Trinidad is located at Forres Park, Beetham and Guanapo (Agard, J & Gowrie, 2002, pp.36-37). The total municipal waste generated for Trinidad is shown in Table 1.1

Table 1.1 Municipal Wastes in Trinidad between 1998-2002 Year
Beetham
Forres Park
Guanapo
Total

tonnes
1998
176,949
98,285
47,984
323,218
1999
172,263
113,858
49,863
335,984
2000
195,967
178,957
48,818
423,742
2001
200,527
104,809
73,448
378,784
2002
238,540
103,051
83,393
424,984
Source: State of the Environment Report for 2001-2002

These data can be used as a proxy for air pollution in general, which impacts on many aspects of the country’s ecosystem and public health including such things as quality of air and biodiversity. But there is no continuous data monitoring for Sulphur dioxide aqnd other chemical emission in Trinidad and Tobago. Therefore estimation for this SO4 indicator could not be determined. The data indices was developed in the past which describe the risks associated with sustainability, climate change, economic and social conditions, climate change, natural disasters, anthropogenic impacts in the country. Most of these figures describe the vulnerability of human systems with only limited attempts having been made to describe effects of air pollution on the environment (Agard, J & Gowrie, 2002, pp.35-37).

 Nature

There is a wide range of industrial pollutants in Trinidad and Tobago. These pollutants are generally addressed in various ways. These include combustion products from power generation, transport and incineration. The common contaminants generated by these processes include, Sulphur oxides, particulates, carbon oxides and nitrogen oxides. There are also non-combustion sources (Agard, J & Gowrie, 2002, pp.39-39). Examples of these are manufacturing processes, agriculture and construction that produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulates. These are release directly from the source into the air in a harmful form. A typical pollutant gas would be carbon monoxide and Sulfur dioxide. Moreover, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also present and serve as atmospheric pollutants that consist of the vapor phase of such compounds. Its chemical composition is depending upon source chemicals (Austin, 2001, pp. 23-25).

There are also inorganic air pollutants consist of many types of substances present in the atmosphere of Trinidad and Tobago. Many of these liquid and solid substances may become particulate air contaminants. These inorganic air pollutants consist of sulfur, oxides of carbon, and nitrogen. Carbon monoxide is considered as a directly fatal and toxic material. Carbon dioxide may turn out to be the most significant air pollutant of all because of its potential as a greenhouse gas that might cause devastating global warming. Oxides of nitrogen and sulfur are acid-forming gases that can facilitate acid precipitation. These pollutants enter the atmosphere as the result of industrial activities (Gowrie, 2001, pp.34-38).

Effects

Air pollution from industrial sources is the most widespread form of pollution in Trinidad and Tobago. It affects the entire population – especially the children. Continuous Air monitoring is presently conducted in the country (Agard, J & Gowrie, 2002, pp.39-39).  Over the period 1998-2002 there has been a steady increase in the number of industries in Trinidad. The number of industrial processes in Tobago however, has remained more or less steady during this same period. There are standards for air pollution concentrations over a period of time that is considered to be acceptable on health and on the environment (Buchoon, 2000, pp.5-6). They can also be used as a bench mark to see if air pollution is getting better or worse. Moreover, air pollution has a wide range of effects on human health, ecosystem, structures and other human environment. Discomfort and adverse effect on human health result to physical and functional damages. Trinidad and Tobago Health Ministry reported incidence of respiratory diseases related to chemical pollutants. They detected significant amount of sulfuric or nitric in aquatic reservoir which can be attributed to acid rains.  It can contaminate vegetation and drinking water, erode buildings and damage aquatic life (Agard, J & Gowrie, 2002, pp.45-47).

Control

The compilation and collection of data on control measures in Trinidad and Tobago is very minimal and it is difficult to determine accurately the percentage of effectively managed or controlled pollutants per year. Municipal pollutants resulted from industrial processes in Trinidad is treated by the process known as Modification of the Transmission Path. It disperses pollutants to reduce the concentration at the susceptible target location to an acceptable level. The pollutant was transported with a considerable distance. In this process, the pollutants are brought to a designated area and are compacted. Most of the other waste products generated are re-shipped to manufacturers for recycling. In Trinidad only waste oil is recycled, therefore, given that 897.8 cubic meters of oil is generated per year, with 35.8 cubic meters being recycled, the mean percent of hazardous waste recycled locally is about 4 per cent (Ragbirsingh-Chang, 2001. pp.45-57).

Table 1.2 Scoring Table for Indicator #39 Waste Treatment Score
% hazardous, toxic and municipal waste “effectively” managed or treated / year
1
81-100
2
61-80
3
41-60
4
21-40 (Tr)
5
11-20
6
5-10
7
<5
Source: State of the Environment Report for 2001-2002

The local government initiated measures to control air pollution by regulating its source that prevent the pollutants from being released into the atmosphere. Emission control systems set by the government are seen as the solution rather than considering ways to eliminate or minimize pollutant release (Buchoon, 2000).

By virtue of government mandate, the Environmental Management Authority has been charged with the responsibility for developing Hazardous waste regulation as well as a regulatory body for Trinidad and Tobago. The Environmental Management Act of 2000 states that the Minister may make rules subject to the negative designation of hazardous substances and the performance standard, safeguard, procedures and licensing requirement with accordance with which such hazardous substances shall be handled.  The management investigate the environment generally and such premises necessary to ascertain the nature of pollutants. It also develops and implements programs for the management of such wastes which include registration and further characterization of significant sources being disposed to the environment (Gowrie, 2001, pp.11-12)

Recommendations:

To help protect human health and ecosystem, these recommendations suit to control and minimize air pollution in Trinidad and Tobago;

Air quality indexes must be used to serve as warning for susceptible people of a possible air pollution health risk.
The modified Environmental Vulnerability Index must aid to summarize a wide range of environmental vulnerability for Trinidad and Tobago. A significant number of data collections are requirement to extract important information from various government or private agencies and international environmental organizations in Trinidad and Tobago.
Administrative controls can be utilized to minimize or prevent the generation of pollutants by the adoption of appropriate industrial practices and rules for specific processes including maintenance, waste disposal procedures and management controls.
Engineering measures and controls can be used by Industries to minimize or prevent the release of pollutants. This approach includes polluting material elimination and substitution to prevent harmful emission into the atmosphere. Modification of the process to eliminate or reduce emissions is also part of engineering control.
Emission control systems are also effective method to discharge gas streams adequately
Government must continually provide support for strengthening the environmental management capacity of participating agencies to provide advice and access to data in support of its activities relating to complaints, environmental emergencies, monitoring compliance, enforcement and assessment of the state of environment.
Properly dissemination of information and co-coordinate activities to promote and enhance environmental awareness of the public.
Conclusions

Human systems and the environment are dependent on one another so that risks to the environment will eventually translate into harm and risks for humans and their welfare. Air pollutants from industrial facilities and industrial processes in Trinidad and Tobago include: oil refineries, power plants, chemical plants and steel mills. The amount of emissions are variously controlled, licensed and permitted emissions by the government, Waste production indicator is based on the amount of wastes produced by industrial processes and pollutants being generated or brought into the country. There is a wide range of industrial pollutants in Trinidad and Tobago. These include combustion products from power generation, transport and incineration. The common contaminants generated by these processes include, Sulphur oxides, particulates, carbon oxides and nitrogen oxides. Effects of these industrial pollutants are directly affecting health of the population such as respiratory diseases. There are also significant amount of sulfuric or nitric acid detected in aquatic reservoir that can destruct vegetation, drinking water, erode buildings and damage aquatic life. Trinidad utilizes Modification of the Transmission to disperse pollutants and most of the other waste products generated are re-shipped to manufacturers for recycling.

This paper described the air pollution from industrial sources in Trinidad and Tobago and its effect in the environment and human health. It constructed an index that focuses on the effects and vulnerability to the environment

List of References

Agard, J & Gowrie, M.N. 2002 State of the Environment Report for 2001-2002 –

Vulnerability Index (EVI): Provisional indices and profiles for Trinidad and Tobago University of the West Indies and Environmental Management Authority

Austin, J.G, 2001. An Assessment of the Vulnerability of Trinidad to Oil and Hazardous

Substance Spills Using an Environmental Vulnerability Index University of the

West Indies, St. Augustine

Buchoon, C. 2000 Development of an Environmental Degradation Index for Trinidad

University of the West Indies, St. Augustine

Gowrie, M.N. 2001 Determination of the Environmental Vulnerability Index for Tobago

University of the West Indies, St. Augustine

Ragbirsingh-Chang, J. 2001 Environmental Exposure Index for Trinidad- A survey of

municipal, toxic and hazardous waste and wastewater generation in Trinidad

University of the West Indies, St. Augustine

World Health Organization, 2000 Air pollution and Contaminants.

WHO Environmental Hazard Report. WHO

 

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