Rwanda’s border district of Rubavu is currently suffocating with high levels of sulphur pollution in the air but government says it is not linked to the ongoing Nyiragongo volcanic activity.
Early this week, the Volcanic Observatory of Goma reported that Nyiragongo volcano was exiting various fumes, particulates and seismic activity causing panic in zones surrounding the mountain.
Across the border, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority deployed a team to assess the quality of the air in Rubavu District and the water quality of Lake Kivu.
This agency installed 6 additional mobile air quality monitoring units and took numerous samples from Lake Kivu. The findings indicate that 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,” REMA said in a statement.