Sofia: Severe air pollution on January 27

Written by on January 27, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Sofia: Severe air pollution on January 27

In the German city of Frankfurt am Main, the Particulate Matter (PM) concentration in the breathing air was at green levels, from 14 to 25µg/m³ (microgram per square metre) on Friday evening. The same applied to Bristol in the United Kingdom. The measuring stations installed in the city centre showed 16 to 25µg/m³.

At the same time, in the more harmless parts of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, those Particulate Matter concentrations were 10 to 15 times higher than that, and a lot worse in other parts.

Between the Zona B-5 and Zona B-18 quarters of Sofia, the value was 829µg/m³. A relatively healthy PM concentration would be 25 to 50µg/m³. In the rest of Sofia, including the city centre, 150 to 650µg/m³ were measured by Air BG’s measuring devices.

On Saturday morning at 3am, things still looked bad. In both Mladost and Druzhba, the PM concentration was 250 to 500µg/m³, or up to 10 times higher than it should be on the worst days of the year. In Sofia’s city centre, the values measured were five to ten times higher than recommended.

Locations with that kind of air pollution should actually not be inhabited at all. On the other hand, if they weren’t, the air would be a whole lot better.

Things are not getting better. The opposite seems to be the case. Measures taken so far have not helped:

> Twice this month, Sofia Municipality asked vehicle owners to use public transport instead. The air is still terrible.

> Yesterday, Mayor Yordanka Fandakova asked residents not to heat using solid fuels. The air is still terrible.

> The Municipality just had Green Tickets printed, which costs 1 lev and is valid on public transport for an entire day. The air is still terrible.

> Tens of new buses were recently purchased. The air is still terrible.

> The Metropolitan Inspectorate carried out inspections in an attempt to stop unregulated waste incineration. The air is still terrible.

> Sofia Municipality has discussed measures such as closing the Blue and Green parking zones in the centre. The air is still terrible.

> Driving bans were discussed, but never implemented. The air is still terrible.

> The municipality has also named sweeping boulevards as a measure against the air pollution. The air is still terrible.

Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported, the Municipality had asked the traffic police to check the exhaust gases of vehicles, but nothing of the kind had been done. Also, only very few Sofia residents heeded Mayor Fandakova’s call and used public transportation instead of their cars.

All in all, none of the measures taken has had any effect on the breathing air in Sofia.

Studies show that high Particulate Matter concentrations do not just cause mucosal inflammations, but also respiratory diseases, heart disease, cancer, and strokes. A study conducted by the University of Edinburgh recently came to the conclusion that there are 1.1 percent more strokes for every ten micrograms of PM2.5 (the smaller and more dangerous kind of Particulate Matter) per cubic metre of air.

Premature deaths of people with heart or lung disease are also connected to breathing air with high PM concentrations. The levels in Sofia are not just high, but extremely high.

All of this means is that all 1.3 million Sofia residents are in danger, and that the problem with Sofia’s air pollution is not being taken seriously. Radical measures need to be taken fast, according to experts.

While controlling the heating in every Sofia home is not really possible, more dramatic appeals are. So are driving bans. The thing about bold measures is that talking about them alone will not change anything, environmental organisations believe.






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