Air pollution in Sofia: Mayor Fandukova asks residents not to use their cars

Written by on January 25, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Air pollution in Sofia: Mayor Fandukova asks residents not to use their cars

For the second time in January 2018, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova has asked residents who have the opportunity to refrain from driving their cars, to do so, and to use public transport instead. That is because Sofia Municipality expects what the mayor called “increased levels” of Particulate Matter (PM) during the next 48 hours.

It is not the first time the PM concentration in the Bulgarian capital is far above recommended levels. Breathing in Sofia, and therefore living in the city, is unhealthy.

On Wednesday at 8pm, the PM10 concentration in part the Krasna Polyana quarter was 510µg/m³ (micrograms per cubic metre), which is 10 times the recommended level. The concentration of the even more dangerous PM2.5 was far too high as well.

At the same time, very similar PM concentrations were measured on the eastern edge of Sofia’s Ovcha Kupel quarter. The breathing air for residents in Zona b-5, Krasna Polyana, Levski and Vrashdebna was extremely high as well.

In high concentrations of this kind, Particulate Matter is known to cause heart disease, respiratory illnesses and cancer.

This morning at 6:40am, there were high to very high PM levels in most of Sofia, inside and partially also outside the Ring Road. In Krasna Polyana, the concentration was five times the value it should have, in Ovcha Kupel up to seven times.

The Air Bulgaria map, this morning. It can be reached here.

In the Hladilnika quarter, the values were three times the highest acceptable concentration. The same applied to Losenets. In Mladost 1 and 2 that is what it looked like as well, according to Air Bulgaria, which relies on multiple measuring devices in all parts of the city.

In Orlandovtsi, Levski and Poduyane, the PM level was also three times higher than it should be on the worst days, while it was double that value in most of the very centre of Sofia.

NGOs are furious since Sofia Municipality has talked about drastic measures for a long time, without actually implementing them so far. Spasi Sofia (“Save Sofia”), an organisation which keeps on criticising the way Sofia deals with construction projects and problems such as the terrible air pollution, accused the Municipality of creating chaos rather than coming up with solutions.

According to this NGO, the mayor’s office is considering letting residents park their cars on the right lanes of big boulevards, in order to transfer to the public transport system. Spasi Sofia said, the pollution problem could not be solved by this kind of measure, which was designed to expel pedestrians from sidewalks and to slow down buses and trams.

“If their goal is to create even more chaos, success is guaranteed”, the organisation said.

The huge air pollution problem Sofia is experiencing has to do with several aspects:

> A high number of old vehicles with just as old engines move back and forth in the city

> The absence of a traffic policy which would deserve that expression

> The fact that heating with solid fuels is wide spread in Bulgaria, including Sofia

> Sofia’s geographical location and the weather

> The absence of drastic measures which could at least improve the situation to some extent

The Sofia City Council will supposedly vote on measures against air pollution today. Hardly any NGOs dealing with pollution believes the measures considered at Sofia Municipality, such as sweeping boulevards, are good enough.

Update Thursday 8:40am: PM10 concentration in Vrazhdebna is 563µg/m³, or more than 11 times the maximum for bad days. In Druzhba 1 a concentration of 311µg/m³ was just measured and in Orlandovtsi 397µg/m³ or eight times the maximum of values of 50µg/m³, which could be called sort of healthy.







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