Air quality monitoring in Belize has been nonexistent to some extent, and as such, on December 4, 2014, the Department of the Environment (DOE) is starting an air quality monitoring program in Belize City.
The Belize City Air Quality Monitoring Program will test the air quality of Belize City, in particular as it relates to Nitrogen Oxide (NO2), Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Ozone (O3). It will assist the DOE in establishing a baseline for understanding the environmental and human health effects of air pollution from industrial, vehicular and other domestic emissions.
Most air pollution originate from human-made sources, including mobile sources (e.g., cars, trucks, buses) and stationary sources (e.g., factories, refineries, power plants), as well as indoor sources (e.g., building materials and cleaning chemicals). It is postulated that most air contaminants in Belize City is as a result of mobile sources. The 2010 National Census estimated that Belize City has a population of 57,310, approximately 30,000 licensed vehicles and an average of 34 private vehicles per 100 inhabitants.
This program is one of the first initiatives aimed at gathering data for analytical review of the ambient air quality in the most populated municipality in the country of Belize. Air pollution can potentially lead to respiratory illnesses; however, defining "air pollution" is not simple. A common definition is “the presence in or introduction into the air of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects.”
In Belize, air pollution is regulated under the Pollution Regulations, Chapter 328 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2000. In Belize, it is illegal to allow or permit contaminants to be emitted or discharged either directly or indirectly into the ambient air, from sources without a permit from the DOE. The DOE has a responsibility to ensure that the ambient air is not being polluted to a point where it affects human health and ecological functions. The program starts with the installation of air monitoring equipment around Belize City for a period of one year.
Belize Department of the Environment