The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) is accountable for protection and management of the environment while maintaining its quality for the benefit of the country. The ambient air quality management, noise and vibration measurement and control, and stationary sources air emission control play a major role on achieving the objectives and goals set out for protecting and maintaining quality of the environment of the country, and the Air Resource Management and Monitoring Unit (ARM&M) titles for a key player, in this context.
The ARM&M recognizes for guiding protection and management of the environment of Sri Lanka that comes under the prime environment legislation of the country; the National Environment Act No 47 of 1980 (NEA), as amended in 1988 and 2000 thus being responsible to manage the ambient air quality by monitoring, implementing the National Environmental (Ambient Air Quality) Regulations and effective management plans. The ARM&M abides protection of the quality of the environment by regulating stationary emission sources, industrial & construction noise and vibration.
Ambient Air quality is managed in line with the National Environmental (Ambient Air Quality) Regulations published under gazette No: 1562/22 on 15.08.2008; the successor to the first regulations published in 1994 and emission sources are controlled by the National Environmental (Stationary Sources Emissions Control) Regulations published on 05.06.2019 by the gazette No: 2126/36. Noise pollution caused due to operation of prescribed industries and construction sites, is controlled by National Environmental (Noise Control) Regulations sanctioned on 06.05.1996 under the gazette No: 924/12 and amended in 1997.
Responding to the development of sustainability of the country, Guidelines for Rail Noise Assessment Criteria for Rapid Rail Transits Systems, Guidelines for Traffic Noise Assessment Criteria for Expressways, and Interim Standards for Air Blast Over Pressure and Ground Vibration are prepared.
All such regulations, guidelines and standards are adopted in the main legal tool introduced by the NEA for environment management; which is at ease with environment impact assessment procedure.
The ARM&M Unit guides to control exhaust emissions caused by mobile sources using the National Environmental (Air Emissions, fuel and vehicle importation) Regulations of 2003, which was amended in 2008 and 2014 and, it was further amended in 2018 compatible with EURO IV International Standards.
1) Technical Services
1. Environmental Quality Monitoring – Ambient air quality monitoring
2. Stationary Sources Emissions monitoring
3. Noise and Vibrations measurements
4. Provide technical assistance for handling EPL procedure
5. Provide technical assistance for handling EIA/IEE
6. Incident based air quality monitoring
7. Provide assistance for the programme on registering consultants and laboratories in CEA
8. Preparation & implementation of Contingency Response action plan (CRAP)
2) Regulatory Functions
1. Preparation of regulations, guidelines and procedures related to ambient air quality, stationary emission sources, noise, vibrations, etc
2. Amending such regulations
3. Administration of regulations
3) Providing technological guidance & assistance for handling complaints and checking industrial compliance
1. Regulatory and compliance checking of industries
2. Assist prosecution procedures of the CEA
3. Technical assistance for other regulatory functions of the CEA–Evaluating technical proposals for air, noise, vibration control and management, functions in Technical Evaluation Committees, etc
4) Conducting of awareness program
5) Collaborative work with Ministry of Environment, and other institutes
1. Air Resource Management Centre (AirMAC) – Ministry of Environment
2. Vehicular Emission Testing Programme of Department of Motor Traffic (VETP-DMT)
6) Developing project proposals and implementing projects
Ambient Air Quality Monitoring in Sri Lanka
Ambient Air Quality Monitoring is an important part of the air quality management which ARM&M Unit holds and mainly contributes. Two automated ambient air quality monitoring stations which are currently located in Battaramulla and Kandy city with complying national siting criteria that established with objectives of determination of real time ambient air quality data focusing air quality management, public awareness, guiding health concerns, trends & status analysis and sharing data & Information with decision markers, researches and intellectuals. Proper monitoring is a limelight to control and regulate industrial air pollution and other sources to maintain the air quality at least up to the regulated standards. It provides background air quality data much needed for right industrial siting and towns planning, as well.
Six air pollutants, namely; Fine particles (PM2.5), Coarse + fine particles (PM10), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ground Level Ozone (O3) and Carbon Monoxides (CO) are monitored regularly. Air Quality Index (AQI) is disseminated to the public daily basis to keep them aware on the air quality and connected health concerns of the concern areas.
The monitoring facility of meteorological parameters such as wind speed and wind direction, relative humidity, solar radiation, ambient pressure and ambient temperature were also integrated with the monitoring stations as meteorological data are essential for data analysis and interpretation of results.
Ambient air quality monitoring is being carried out with the aid of Vehicular Emission Test (VET) Trust Fund to ensure the uniformity, consistency of air quality data and obtaining technical and financial support for operating the monitoring stations.
Ambient air quality monitoring at Colombo Fort is carried out and Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulphur Dioxide levels are analyzing using wet chemical method.
Today CEA has three (03) sensor-based air quality monitoring units installed in the sites in Jaffna, Kurunegala & Anuradhapura cities and displayed the real-time air quality data/AQI/Meteorological factors through digital display boards. These air quality monitoring units were received by CEA as a donation of World Health Organization (WHO) and inaugurated in 2023 but still under test run.
Visit the air quality details section in the CEA website for daily updates of Air Quality Indices (AQI) published using the data of Battaramulla and Kandy AAQMS.
Current Ambient air quality monitoring Sites Locations
Industrial Noise and vibration measurements
- Noise pollution from prescribed industries, and noise pollution caused by construction activities are regulated by the National Environmental (noise control) Regulations sanctioned in 05.06.1996 published by the gazette No: 924/12. This Regulation was amended in 1997. The permissible noise levels, measurement methodology and instruments executed for measurement are specified in the regulations.
- The vibration level measurements are carried out in accordance with the methods lay down in ISO-4866:1990E, as stipulated in the Proposed Vibration Standards by the Central Environmental Authority.
Stationary Sources Emissions
- In order to track release of pollutants through air emissions and effluent discharge from prescribed industries with high pollution potential and to measure the emission levels, the regulations published on 05.06.2019 under the gazette No: 2126/36 is executed. This regulates combustion and non-combustion instruments releasing air emissions. Fugitive emissions escaped from industrial process and emission areas are controlled by using the regulations.
Traffic Noise Assessment Criteria for Expressways
- The government is in the view of developing public transport system for making a solution for traffic congestion as well transportation induced environmental pollution control, and accordingly the ARM&M Unit developed planning and designing supportive tool focusing the management of environment and maintain the environment quality of the country while public transportation projects will come to affect.
- ARM & M Unit plays a pivotal role in preparation of guidelines for traffic noise assessment criteria for expressways in Sri Lanka serving the objectives of planning, construction and operation of expressways. Through the guidelines, CEA assists the government authorities, projects proponents and consultants in planning such projects. Further CEA guides for noise measurements, monitoring, modeling and prediction in expressway projects for institutions who are involved in. Additionally, the guidelines serve the purpose of noise impact assessments and pre & post compliance verifications for Environmental Impact Assessments or Initial Environmental Examinations of such projects.
- The guideline was come to effect with 2018.
Rail Noise Assessment Criteria for Rapid Rail Transit Systems
- ARM & M Unit establishes the guidelines for rail noise assessment criteria for rapid rail transit systems. It regulates the planning, construction and operation of rapid rail transit systems. The assessment criteria govern the application in noise impact assessment, pre & post compliance verifications for Environmental Impact Assessments or Initial Environmental Examinations of rapid rail projects. It also determines the noise disturbance on a quantitative manner and for regulatory requirements and offer an introductory treatise on noise control in rapid rail systems.
- The guideline was come to effect with 2018.
2022 High PM Episode
Sri Lanka experiences haze during the months of October, November & December in 2022 with the possible air pollution increase.
Each monitoring station including Battaramulla & Kandy recorded high concentrations of the major pollutants (Particulate Matter) in ambient air and exceeded the National Ambient Air quality standards during several days in these months. AQI (Air Quality Indices) has shown unhealthy for sensitive groups during this short period.
Due to the seasonal phenomena occurs at the Indian sub-continent during North East Monsoon period each year PM level has been increased yearly at that period. The effect “Mandous” cyclonic storms originated from the Bengal Bay in Indian Ocean has caused increase of PM much worse in 2022, but subsided gradually with the time.
Air quality data based on AAQMS site located in Battaramulla shows that significant improvements in ambient air quality were achieved when the lockdown was imposed.