What do we breathe?
Georgian National Environment Agency has managed for the first time to measure the level of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone and benzene in Georgia’s cities. In other words, the substances, the level of which is usually taken into account when determining the pollution of the air that the urban residents breathe.
As expected, it is most difficult to breathe for Tbilisi residents. Approximately one million vehicles have been registered in Georgia and a bit less than half of them run in Tbilisi.
In Tbilisi, the air was tested in 24 areas – both, in the center and in the periphery. The National Environmental Agency experts admit that there is high content of nitrogen dioxide-over 80 microgram per one cubic centimeter in some central districts. Indices from 41 to 54 microgram are considered low, from 107 to 120 microgram – high. Thus, the Environmental Agency experts consider that Tbilisi data are far from being dangerous. It is still possible to live here.
Tatuli Chachava, a resident of one of Tbilisi central districts – Melikishvili Avenue, in the vicinity of which a relatively high level of pollutants was also reported, tries not to open windows.
“We really try not to open the windows quite often. It is especially hard in summer, when it is hot and the wind blows hot dust and vehicle emissions through the opened window, said Tatuli Chachava.
Despite the obvious problems, life in the city center, the land and real estate in the central districts of Tbilisi, are much more expensive than in the city outskirts – in the more comfortable districts from the environmental point of view.
In the environmentalists’ opinion, the abundance of vehicles in the streets is the main factor of the air pollution in the city.
The problem is aggravated by the fact that the major part of the vehicles, running in Georgia’s cities, have been depreciated and pollute the environment more than the brand new vehicles. Besides, many drivers use the fuel, that is especially toxic for the environment.
As part of the Association Agreement with the European Union, Georgia has undertaken commitments aimed at adjusting the air in its cities in conformity with the Europe-adopted norms. Reduction of sulfur content in fuel is one of the key steps aimed at improving environment in the city. Namely, a prohibition to use fuel, containing 10 or more milligram of sulfur per 1 kg, will take its effect since September 1.
Georgian environmental organizations’ activists stress the need for permanent control over the quality of petroleum available at the petrol filling stations. At present, petrol quality is practically beyond control and even in case of conducting corresponding monitoring, its results are not publicized.