Sofia: Catastrophic air quality on Monday night

Written by on January 8, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Sofia: Catastrophic air quality on Monday night

The air quality in many parts of Sofia was catastrophic on Monday night. The concentration of particulate matter (PM), the inhalation of which can lead to severe respiratory illnesses and heart disease, was extremely high.

At around 6pm, the concentration of PM10 in Sofia’s Ovcha Kupel quarter was 993 µg/m³ (micrograms per cubic metre), and therefore at least twenty times higher than it should be, in the air people breathe. The concentration of the even more dangerous PM2.5 was 597µg/m³, or at least 12 times higher than recommended.

In other parts of Sofia, including the very centre, the PM2.5 concentration registered on Monday evening was between twice and thirteen times the value of 50µg/m³, which it should never surpass, in order to have safe breathing air.

This means that breathing in most of Sofia is actually far more dangerous to people’s health right now than it usually is, in the most polluted capital of the EU. Over the weekend, the situation had already been bad.

The site Air Bulgaria offers the latest air pollution data. Picture by Air Bulgaria.

In spite of the terrible air quality, Sofia Municipality has not taken any emergency measures, so far. Recently, the municipality had listed several measures it said it envisaged for situations like this one.

Reducing the ticket prices for public transport or giving them away for free was one of them, “easier” parking at Metro stations outside the city centre another. Sharply increasing parking fees in the centre was mentioned as well, as a possibility, along with a driving ban. For the latter, Sofia Municipality might need a legislation amendment.

The alarming air pollution with particulate matter is related to traffic, the industry and heating with solid fuels. The weather plays a role as well.

On photos of Sofia, which people posted all over the social media world in the past three days, the air pollution was clearly visible.

This evening, the only green spots in Sofia, with an acceptable PM concentration in the air, were registered in parts of the quarters Boyana, Dragalevtsi and Simeonovo, located at the foot of the Vitosha mountain range.

On the site Air Bulgaria, anyone can follow the latest air pollution data in Sofia or elsewhere.

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com