Bulgaria remains among the most polluted countries in Europe, according to the latest annual air quality report published by the European Environment Agency on October 15 2013.
The report said that part of Europe continue having problems meeting air quality standards and collected data showed that the share of urban population exposed to particulate matter actually increased in 2011, the year on which the report is based. Particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O3) were the most problematic pollutants in terms of harm to human health, according to the report.
The EEA report named Bulgaria as the country with the highest reported daily limit value of PM10, particulate matter in the one-hundredth of a millimetre size range, one of 10 countries to report a daily mean value higher than the one set by EU regulations (50 micrograms a cubic metre).
In Bulgaria’s case, the daily mean value was about double the EU limit and the highest concentration measured was about four times higher than the one mandated by European regulations.
On PM2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 microns in size), Bulgaria ranked the worst too – last year, it was third-worst behind Poland and the Czech Republic – with a daily mean value above the 25 micrograms a cubic metre limit set by EU regulations (a decline from last year’s report that showed Bulgaria’s daily mean value below the EU limit).
Particulate matter can cause or aggravate cardiovascular and lung diseases, heart attacks and arrhythmias, affect the central nervous system, the reproductive system and cause cancer. The outcome can be premature death.
On ozone, Bulgaria scored in the middle of the EU pack, with the daily mean value within the EU regulatory limits, but two of the air quality stations in the country, including the one is Sofia, showing a statistically significant increase of ozone concentration between 2002 and 2011.
On nitrogen oxides, Bulgaria was also within EU regulatory limits, but on sulphur dioxide, Bulgaria scored the highest average daily value of sulphur dioxide among 27 EU member states by far, albeit still well below the average mandated by EU regulations.
On carbon monoxide, Bulgaria again scored worst in the EU, although that value too fell under the mandated eight-hour mean value limit set in EU regulations.
(Smog over Sofia, photo by dewfall/flickr.com)