So. Africa: Greenpeace study claims coal mining area has the worst air quality in the world

Author: Anita Powell, Voice of America, Published on: 5 February 2019

Author, Anita Powell, VOANews, 29 January 

"World’s Worst Air is in S. African Coal Community" 29 January 2019

Thirty-five-year-old Patrick Mdluli considered himself healthy until he moved two years ago to Mpumalanga province - South Africa’s coal mining heartland. The area has the worst air quality in the world, according to a recent study by environmental group Greenpeace. The 12 large coal mines in this area make it the world’s hotspot for toxic nitrogen dioxide emissions. Soon, Mdluli said, he began to develop health problems, including tuberculosis and nasal issues. “The mines, the dust, pollution - you go to doctors, they tell you the very same thing," he said. "‘Are you living next to a mine?’ Yes, I am. ‘Are you living next to a dumping site?’ Yes, I am.”

A large coal mine operates, literally, in Mdluli’s backyard. The mine has conducted blasts every day, shaking his small home to its foundation, filling the rooms with dust and causing a large crack in the wall. Residents in this impoverished area complain that their walls are crumbling because of the incessant blasts.

...Although mines are big money, locals say the coal companies have done little to improve the community. Middelburg is poor and many people lack basic services like electricity and running water. Tayob says the government is also failing to enforce environmental laws and crack down on the mines. He blames the coal mining industry and poor governance for the current situation. Corruption scandals are prevalent in South Africa, and often grab headlines...This province, says longtime resident and environmental activist William Jiyane, used to be beautiful.

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