live AQI index
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups|| 102 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 35.9 µg/m³|
PM2.5 concentration in Zagreb air is currently 7.2 times above the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Thursday, Nov 25|
Unhealthy 151 US AQI
|Friday, Nov 26|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 125 US AQI
|Saturday, Nov 27|
Moderate 79 US AQI
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 102 US AQI
|Monday, Nov 29|
Good 23 US AQI
|Tuesday, Nov 30|
Good 39 US AQI
|Wednesday, Dec 1|
Good 14 US AQI
|Thursday, Dec 2|
Good 20 US AQI
|Friday, Dec 3|
Good 18 US AQI
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Zagreb is a city in Croatia, holding the title of capital, as well as the largest city in the country. It has a somewhat high elevation above sea level, with a 400ft elevation providing it with a higher altitude, a geographical trait that can sometimes aid in the removal of pollution due to prevailing winds as well as a lack of topographical features (such as valleys or mountain ranges) that tend to cause pollution to build up and fail to disperse.
However, despite this fact, Zagreb is a city with some significant pollution issues, and whilst Croatia as a country has many cities with a great quality of air throughout the year, there are some on the opposite end of the spectrum, with PM2.5 readings that go high up into pollution brackets that are not so commonly seen throughout Europe. Observing readings taken at the end of 2020 as well as early 2021 to use as indicators in Zagreb's pollution levels, there are some significant readings of PM2.5.
Towards the end of December in 2020 averages of 33 to 35 μg/m³ were taken over the course of a few days, putting that particular time period into the higher end of the ‘moderate’ pollution bracket, one which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. In early January even more elevated readings of pollution were taken, with a high of 63.4 μg/m³ having been recorded in the first half of the month, a reading that would classify it on that day as ‘unhealthy’ in its pollution levels, a rating that as the name implies is extremely detrimental to human health and has serious impact on any portions of the population exposed to it.
As such, whilst there are days that do see signs of respite (with a reading of 9.2 μg/m³ being taken in late January), it stands to reason that in its colder months, Zagreb is subject to some significant pollution levels, which will require a large amount of initiatives from the country in the future to bring its PM2.5 reading down and improve its air quality.
It is well documented that in Zagreb, the winter months are subject to vast amounts of smog and haze, often causing a myriad of health issues amongst the population, some of which will be discussed in short. Colder months often see a rise in pollution levels across the world, with increased need for heating often driving power plants to go through a significant amount of energy, and thus increasing its use of coal, particularly prominent in countries where coal use has not been phased out yet.
Going off of this information, factories, industrial zones and power plants are all big contributors to air pollution in Zagreb, with large amounts of both coal and diesel being utilized to operate heavy machinery as well as provide energy. On top of this, many novel chemicals are released into the air depending on what is being produced in any particular factory or industrial zone. A factory dealing in plastics or industrial materials may put out a wider array of contaminants into the air such as plastic fumes, microplastics, dioxins, furans and even toxic metals such as lead or mercury.
Other prominent causes of pollution in Zagreb include vehicular emissions. With the majority of the country’s population being condensed into this city, there is naturally a high amount of smoke and fumes released from vehicles in people’s daily commutes across town, as well as heavy duty vehicles such as trucks and lorries transporting goods and industrial items. These are but a few of the main causes of pollution in Zagreb.
Due to being the industrial, economic and financial heart of Croatia, naturally there will be large amounts of annual growth in urban infrastructure occurring in Zagreb, much of which can contribute to air pollution just as prominently as any other source. As a city known for its diverse economy, it is natural that there will be an ever growing need for transport infrastructure and other trade related links, both within and outside of the country.
As such, the growth of roads, highways, train lines and airports can all contribute massively to pollution levels, with an increase in anthropogenic (human related) activity driving up PM2.5 readings due to an increase in vehicle and transport usage, as well as the overall air contamination caused by the building of said areas.
Construction sites can take a massive toll on the environment, with ecosystems being wiped out, as well as the resulting construction areas (which can be years in the making) often giving off large amounts of pollution and fine particulate matter, some of which comes from finely ground industrial material, as well as the use of heavy machinery which once again relies heavily on fuels such as diesel.
So, it can be said that with a growing economy as well as being an important transportation hub linking central Europe, the Mediterranean and southeastern Europe, there will be a decline in air quality as a result, which is what is currently being seen in the capital.
Whilst the warmer months may bring with them a decline in pollution levels, going off of the PM2.5 readings taken in the colder months, it is certain that there would be a significant amount of health issues arising from exposure to contaminated air. Some of these health issues would be short term ones such as increased bouts of coughing, chest infections and irritation to the mucous membranes and skin.
Over prolonged periods of time, more serious ones would start to arise, such as raised rates of throat and lung cancer, a plethora of respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis, as well as damage to fertility rates and infant mortality, with unborn babies being at high risk when exposed to pollutants whilst in the womb.
Going off of examples of other cities in Europe such as Bern in Switzerland, placing emission caps on industrial zones and factories is a prominent way to heavily reduce pollution levels. If these factories, personal businesses or industrial areas break over the allotted limits, fines and charges can be imposed, a powerful incentive to get factories and businesses to comply. The gradual phasing out of coal use, as well as a lessened reliance on fossil fuels as a whole, and a steady move over to renewable energy sources would also go a long way in reducing pollution in Zagreb and increasing its air quality levels.
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