September 15th, 2016 – As officials continue to work to address the issues associated with the New Providence landfill, the Aquinas College Development Committee has taken the proactive step to implement a school air monitoring program. Media reports have raised concerns about air quality; particularly for persons who live, work and play close to the landfill. In an effort to reduce the exposure of the school community to pollution, the Aquinas College Development Board recently invested in a Sensidyne Nephelometer and a Dylos Air Quality Monitor. The equipment will be used to measure levels of toxic air pollution around Aquinas College for better protection of students, teachers, Administrators, staff and parents.
Dr. Danny Davis, Assistant Professor, School of Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences /Director, Institutional Strengthening, The College of The Bahamas recently gave a presentation to the Aquinas College Development Committee. The presentation addressed the process for monitoring particulate air quality and the application of air quality monitoring instruments. Dr. Davis, who is also an Aquinas alumni (Class of 1981) and an Aquinas parent, stated that the main objective of the air monitoring initiative is to collect air quality data and use the data to make informed decisions, e.g. under what conditions should students with asthma limit outdoor activities or at what point should school be closed. He explained, “By using these instruments and analyzing the data, we are trying to quantify what we have all been subjectively trying to say.”
The preliminary stage of the Aquinas Air Monitoring Initiative involves the setting up of the equipment and the establishment of baseline data. Air pollution is a global problem, but there has to be a process in place which guides how we address the problem and practical solutions to reduce our personal exposure to pollution. Dr. Davis explained that presently we don’t know much about the air quality. We simply know on days the landfill is burning it’s not good. We feel the effects of the fire, but we have no basis for the levels of toxic air pollution or the extent of the issues.
The Aquinas College Air Quality Initiative is a testament to how the support and involvement of all stakeholders (parents, alumni and teachers) contributes to the well being of Catholic Schools and the Catholic Board of Education (CBE). The school will run the air monitoring program and the entire school community will participate in the execution of the program. Dr. Davis will train Administrators and teachers to read and monitor the data and maintain the instruments.
“This initiative is important because it is a concrete demonstration of the care and concern that the CBE and the Administration of Aquinas College have for the well-being of the students in our schools”, stated Most Reverend Patrick Christopher Pinder, S.T.D., C.M.G, Archbishop of Nassau. He concluded: – “The engagement of students in this initiative will enhance their classroom experience with a practical component. The awareness of respecting the environment, especially the air we have to breathe will also be a spinoff. I am hoping that the program will also advance social awareness of the pollution of the air by fire from the dump (landfill) and the occasional bush fires. Increased awareness may lead to the establishment of an air quality index for the country or at least for New Providence. This would be a wonderful contribution of this AC initiative to the life of the Bahamian community as a whole.”
Members of the Aquinas Development Committee listen intently to a presentation by Dr. Davis entitled: – ‘Monitoring of Particulate Air Quality’.
Aquinas College air monitoring equipment, Sensidyne Nephelometer (right) and Dylos Air Quality Monitor (left).
Dr. Davis engages with Aquinas College Development Committee members