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Investigation detects traces of lead in Tbilisi air

The highest concentrations of lead are found near construction sites

NGO Ekokhedvya has conducted laboratory tests on Tbilisi’s air and reports that traces of lead have been detected.

Specialists are sounding the alarm: lead takes a while to exit the human body and can build up in high concentrations.

The studies done on the air samples yielded the following results: the lead content of Tbilisi’s air reaches the permissible norm of 0.3 µg (micrograms)/m3, and in some places reaches as high as 0.6 µg/m3, reports  Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Ekhokhedva conducted the study in June and July in several districts of Tbilisi, including Heroes Square, Lisi Lake, Vake Park and Digomi. In Digomi, the study was carried out near several construction sites where the highest concentration of lead was discovered.

Heroes Square also had a high concentration of lead in the air, especially during rush hour. Nitrogen dioxide, another poisonous chemical, was also discovered in the air.

This is not the first instance of lead measuring in Tbilisi’s air. The National Environmental Agency has been tracking this indicator since 2008. However, the results of their investigations have not been cause for alarm.

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The issue of lead content in the population’s blood was widely-discussed after information was published which confirmed that lead had been detected in a number of spices commonly used in the country’s cuisine.

On.ge reported first on the issue, citing data of the US Department of Health, after which Imedi published the results of an investigation according to which elevated levels of lead were discovered.

A number of foreigners living in Georgia and members of the diplomatic corps in the country have started doing blood analyses to check for lead.

The Ambassador of Estonia, Kai Kaarelson, had his blood analysed, as did other employees of the embassy, and discovered elevated levels of lead. The diplomat attributed this to living in Georgia.

The Estonian Consul said that he often goes by foot in Tbilisi, and that is what caused the elevated level of lead in his blood. The diplomat told Rustavi 2 in an interview that the air in Tbilisi’s streets is polluted and that lead gets into the body through the respiratory tract.

National Democratic Institute Director Laura Thornton’s post about elevated levels of lead in her blood and those of her friends also gave rise to heated discussions.

“My Georgian friends, I beg you, test for lead in your blood. My friends and I did this and we discovered that the dangerous substance was above the norm,” Thornton wrote.

Thornton says that the elevated level of lead must be due to the ‘low-quality fuel used by Georgian drivers’.

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