Sulphur dioxide levels in the Falkirk area are on the increase but measures are now being put in place to cut down on emissions.
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald was concerned at figures he received from Scottish environment minister Stewart Stevenson which show Grangemouth has a worrying number of sulphur dioxide breaches over the first seven months of 2012.
However, on Monday Mr MacDonald met with senior officers from SEPA, Falkirk Council and Ineos to discuss the recent breaches and heard about the work going on to combat the problem, including the £30 million sulphur recovery unit at Ineos which is due to become operational by the end of this year.
Environmental health officers and Ineos representatives also pointed out Grangemouth complies with strict European legislation regarding emissions and Mr MacDonald said he was satisfied everything possible was being done to reduce SO2 levels.
He added “Having had the opportunity to raise my concerns with industry chiefs, including senior environmental health officials, I am satisfied everything is being done to address the issue.
“It is of some comfort and reassurance Grangemouth complies with European limits. It is also reassuring Ineos are making such a significant investment which will hopefully see a major reduction in SO2 breaches once the sulphur recovery unit comes on stream at the end of the year.
“I look forward to further improvements in air quality in the immediate future and will be monitoring the situation closely.”
Monitoring stations in Moray Primary School, Grangemouth Municipal Chambers and Inchyra Park, all showed a significant increase in SO2 levels this year.
According to limits set by Air Quality (Scotland) Regulations 2000, Moray Primary recorded 74 SO2 breaches over the course of the entire year of 2011, but that 12 month total has almost been matched already, with 67 breaches detected so far in 2012.
The Municipal Chambers station readings shot up from just six incidences of excessive SO2 in 2011 to 43 breaches so far this year, while Inchyra Park, which registered 36 breaches in 2011, already has 44 this year.
One of the main sources of SO2 is the combustion of solid fuel and petroleum products and studies have shown sulphur dioxide is a recognised pollutant which can cause irritation, coughing and a feeling of chest tightness. People suffering from asthma are considered to be particular sensitive to high levels of SO2.