Air quality in Rubavu District “Unhealthy” is not currently linked to volcanic activity

Following reports by the Volcanological Observatory of Goma of increased activity from Mt Nyiragongo, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority(REMA) deployed a team to assess the quality of the air in Rubavu District and the water quality of Lake Kivu.

To conduct the assessment, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority installed 6 additional mobile air quality monitoring units and took numerous samples from Lake Kivu. The findings indicate that the water quality of Lake Kivu remains stable with no observable changes from the long term average.

Measurements show that the quality of the air in Rubavu District is currently unhealthy, with increased levels of particulate matter (PM 2.5) being recorded over the last three days. While the air quality has worsened in recent days, this is likely the result of human activity such as pollution from motorised transport and wood and charcoal burning rather than volcanic activity, which would have led to increased levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2).

Due to the poor air quality, residents in Rubavu District are encouraged to continue wearing masks and limit outdoor physical activity where possible. Rwandans are also encouraged to download the Rwanda Air Quality Index mobile application from the Google Play Store or visit real time updates on air quality across the country.

The Rwanda Environment Management Authority and Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board will continue to assess any impacts that may arise from activity linked to Mt Nyiragongo by monitoring air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide (CO2). The acidity (pH), conductivity, oxygen concentration and turbidity of Lake Kivu during this period of increased volcanic activity will also be monitored and results will be shared with the public.(End)