In Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, air pollution norms were exceeded 70 times in the heating period from October 2017 to March 2018, citizens’ initiative AirBG.info told a news conference on April 4, the eve of the first anniversary of the announcement of the group’s founding.
The day with the worst air pollution in Sofia was January 27, when the norm was exceeded six times over, at 331 units per cubic metre. This was a record for all areas where the group has sensors.
The group joined the Luftdaten.info network in 2017 and announced its founding on April 5, the day that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that it had ruled against Bulgaria in a case brought by the European Commission against the country over its failure to implement measures to reduce air pollution.
There are 300 sensors measuring air quality in Sofia and more than 600 in various parts of Bulgaria.
AirBG.info’s Stefan Dimitrov said that by now, the group had taken about 42 million measurements of air.
Petar Kirov of the group said that the youngest volunteer participating in the group was 13 years old and the oldest, 76.
Svetoslav Ivanov said the two main reason for the air pollution were solid fuel heating and motor vehicle traffic. This kind of heating, in combination with temperature inversions in winter, were the most serious problem in Sofia and other large cities in Bulgaria including Plovdiv, Varna and Blagoevgrad.
Other bad days in Sofia this past winter season were January 8, 27 and February 13, when air pollution was about five to six times the norm.
Dimitrov said that the good news was that the group’s network was expanding rapidly. The authorities showed interest in the topic of air pollution. The group had held meetings with Environment Minister Neno Dimov, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova and with scientists, and other good news was the decision to carry out measurements jointly with the Environment Executive Agency.