Assessing Levels of Ambient Air Quality for Pulp and Paper Milling Industry in Kenya

Elvis K. Kiano, Wilson K. Yabann, Joel Sumukwo


Paper as a commodity is of great importance to human kind as it has continued to define human civilization. The significance of pulp and paper industry either historically or at present cannot be gainsaid. Pulp and paper industry has been characterized as a resource inefficient and heavy pollutant emitter. This industry uses about a fifth largest energy consumer processes; approximately 4% of total energy is used worldwide. There is paucity of empirical evidence to indicate air pollution levels that are pulp and paper specific in developing countries more so Africa. Webuye Pan Paper Mills –the case for this study, has been operating since its establishment in 1974 despite the several environmental concerns raised by the residents concerning plantation establishment, liquid effluents, air emissions, sludge and solid waste disposal. By sheer observation, the most obvious environmental effect of pulp and paper milling in Webuye and its environs manifests itself in malodorous gasses emitted in the air around the mill. This study therefore provides a basis of dealing with industrial pollution by estimating ambient air pollution levels. In order to estimate the levels of concentration of various air pollutants identical to pulp and paper milling such as particulate matter, Sulphur dioxide and Nitrogen oxide. Using correlational study design the study modelled relationship between emission and metrological data to determine concentration levels. Emission data obtained from secondary sources through meta-analysis was modelled against secondary quarterly metrological data (wind speed, direction, temperature and distance from emission site) for the periods February 2007 to January 2009. The study found that highest emissions of the pollutants under consideration were experienced in Webuye town a finding that can be attributed to the proximity to the pollution source. The study established that the Paper Mills emits toxic gases such as Sulphur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NO), and particulate matters (TP10) in levels that sometimes were two times higher than the WHO global recommendation. The study concludes that there is no significant difference between emissions levels in Webuye town and the neighbouring locations of Chimoi, Lugulu and Matisi. Conversely, there was a significant difference in emission levels of Webuye environs compared to those of Kakamega town which was used as a control site. The study recommends that an industrial national pollution standard be established in industrial zones. Further, such standard should be monitored through a pollution monitoring centre as part of standards enforcement

Keywords: Ambient air quality; Pollution, Pulp and paper; Mean emissions.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3186 ISSN (Online)2225-0921

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