Concentrations of particulate air pollution in Suva, Fiji, have been largely unknown and consequently, current strategies to reduce health risk from air pollution in Suva are not targeted effectively. This lack of air quality data is common across the Pacific Island Countries. A monitoring study, during 2014 and 2015, has characterised the fine particulate air quality in Suva, representing the most detailed study to date of fine aerosol air pollutants for the Pacific Islands; with sampling at City, Residential (Kinoya) and Background (Suva Point) sites. Meteorology for Suva, as it relates to pollutant dispersion for this period of time, has also been analysed. The study design enables the contribution of maritime air and the anthropogenic emissions to be carefully distinguished from each other and separately characterised. Back trajectory calculations show that a packet of air sampled at the Suva City site has typically travelled 724 km in the 24-h prior to sampling, mainly over open ocean waters; inferring that pollutants would also be rapidly transported away from Suva. For fine particulates, Suva City reported a mid-week PM2.5 of 8.6 ± 0.4 μg/m3, averaged over 13-months of gravimetric sampling. Continuous monitoring (Osiris laser photometer) suggests that some areas of Suva may experience levels exceeding the WHO PM2.5 guideline of 10 μg/m3, however, compared to other countries, Fiji's PM2.5 is low. Peak aerosol particulate levels, at all sites, were experienced at night-time, when atmospheric conditions were least favourable to dispersion of air pollutants. Suva's average ambient concentrations of black carbon in PM2.5 2.2 ± 0.1 μg/m3, are, however, similar to those measured in much larger cities. With any given parcel of air spending only seven minutes, on average, over the land area of Suva Peninsula, these black carbon concentrations are indicative that significant combustion emissions occur within Suva. Many other communities in the Pacific Islands, as well as in Africa, Asia and South America share similar climate and similar burning practices and as such are likely to experience similar aerosol black carbon loadings. These black carbon levels indicate the need for combustion emissions, particularly those from open burning and diesel usage, to be addressed in air policy.
- Black carbon