|1||Burabay, Soltustik Qazaqstan|
|4||Shymkent, Ongtustik Qazaqstan|
|6||Almaty, Almaty Qalasy|
|8||Esik, Almaty Oblysy|
|9||Ust-Kamenogorsk, East Kazakhstan|
|10||Burunday, Almaty Oblysy|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
|3||Ridder, East Kazakhstan|
|5||Aqsay, Batys Qazaqstan|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
Kazakhstan is officially known as the Republic of Kazakhstan and is a country which is situated for the larger portion in Central Asia with a very small part in Eastern Europe. It is 100 per cent land-locked and has an overall population of 18.3 million people. Since 2019, the capital city is known as Nur-Sultan in honour of the departing president. Before that, it was called Astana. In 2019 it held the world ranking as the 29th dirtiest city in the world, out of a possible 98. A US AQI figure of 75 was recorded, which classifies it as “Moderate”, and the PM2.5 concentration was twice the recommended limit by the World Health Organisation (WHO). With figures such as these, the advice is to close doors and windows to prevent the ingress of dirty air into the home. Those people of a sensitive disposition should avoid venturing outside until the air quality improves. This information can readily be found on the website IQAir.com.
The presence of new physical, chemical and biological substances in a particular environment that are not specific to that area, or when these substances are above the natural long-term average level, is called pollution. Atmospheric pollution can occur in natural (volcanic eruptions, forest fires, dust storms, landslides) and anthropogenic (industrial, thermal, agricultural) conditions.
Natural air pollution is caused by volcanic eruptions (there are several thousand volcanoes on Earth, more than 500 of which are active), rock erosion, dust storms, forest fires (during lightning), sea salt rising in the wind and drying of water droplets in the air. Among the sources of dust pollution of the lower atmosphere are the dessert and other arid steppes. In addition to converting atmospheric dust into water vapour, it directly absorbs solar radiation and protects living organisms from sunlight. The biological decomposition of substances results in the release of large amounts of hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and dioxide, etc. and their release into the atmosphere. Natural disasters make a significant contribution to air pollution. For example, an average of 30 to 150 million tons of gas and 30 to 300 million tons of finely dispersed ash are released into the atmosphere each year as a result of volcanic eruptions.
Airports emit more pollutants during landings and take-offs. For example, the amount of pollutants emitted during the flight of a Boeing plane is equal to the number of pollutants emitted from 6850 Volkswagen cars that were running at the same time.
The main sources of air pollution in industrialised countries are cars, other modes of transport and production facilities. According to a study, 25.5 billion tons of anthropogenic pollutants enter the atmosphere each year; tons of carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, chlorinated and fluorinated hydrocarbons (freons), organic compounds of hydrocarbons and lead, as well as carcinogens that cause cancer.
Anthropogenic (artificial) sources of air pollution include industrial manufacturing, transportation, thermal power, residential heating systems and agriculture. Only industrial enterprises can be divided into the following main types of pollution: raw materials, materials, equipment, fuel, electricity, water and waste. Emissions into the atmosphere are usually gas, steam and airborne dust. The chemical composition of air pollutants depends on the type of fuel and energy resources and raw materials used in production and the technology of their processing. Man-made emissions contain several thousand compounds. However, the largest amount of them is solid particles of dust, smoke and soot, and gaseous emissions of carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, phosphorus compounds, hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, chlorine and hydrogen fluoride.
Each car absorbs 4 tons of air a year and emits 800 kg of carbon monoxide, 40 kg of nitrogen oxides and about 200 kg of various hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. Exhaust gases from cars are mixtures of about 200 substances. They are fully and partially burned fuel products known as hydrocarbons. A large amount of these is released into the environment when a vehicle engine is in speeding and idling in a traffic jam. In this case, the fuel does not burn completely, and dirty air is released 10 times more than under normal running conditions. Under normal running conditions, the exhaust gas from the engine contains carbon dioxide and about 200 other substances.
Carbon dioxide is naturally heavier than air, therefore a baby in a pushchair is lower to the ground that the mother who is pushing it and will therefore swallow more.
Reducing the negative impact of vehicles on the environment is an important condition for building a sustainable society. Therefore, at present, models of zero-emission cars are being developed, gasoline is being replaced by liquefied gas, and instead of gasoline, animal feed (beet, corn) vegetable oils are being used.
It has been suggested that the government should take the following systematic measures to improve the current environmental situation, including the prevention of high levels of air pollution: the development of a summary of the maximum permissible emissions and environmental quality targets for the impact of pollutants from industrial areas on the region or nearby settlements. This should run simultaneously with the development of a comprehensive action plan aimed at reducing emissions of toxic substances into the atmosphere in order to improve the environmental situation in the regions. Systematic measures to monitor the quality of the atmosphere and its impact on the health of the population living in the sanitary protection zone of industrial enterprises also need to be introduced.
At the same time, it is necessary for industrial enterprises to actively reduce the number of harmful substances emitted into the air in adverse metrological conditions and to strengthen control over the level of vehicle emissions and toxicity. There are currently a number of preventive measures to improve air quality, such as banning heavy trucks from entering the city, preventing the concentration of several buses on the same route, the use of control devices that trap exhaust gases of gasoline-powered vehicles. In addition, all cars, trucks and public transport are being converted to gas. To do this, it is necessary to close gasoline stations inside and outside the city and install gas (LPG) stations in their place.
From a hygienic point of view, the use of gas is very efficient, because it does not pollute the air and does not cause economic losses in its use, it is very cheap. In addition, in Almaty, mainly the subway, trolleybuses and trams are widely used. Once the metro in the city is complete, the use of cars in Almaty would be significantly reduced. Millions of tons of coal are burned, annually and it is very often Ekibastuz coal which is extremely low quality and produces a huge amount of ash. Some of this gas escapes in the smoke and is emitted into the atmosphere. This coal could possibly be treated so that it produces less smoke and ash, but that would increase the price and would, therefore, become unpopular. To save money, residents would find an alternative fuel.
In 2017 in the major cities of the country registered 990 cases of high air pollution and 98 cases of extreme pollution, i.e. the most dangerous type. In particular, 357 cases of high air pollution and 75 cases of very high pollution, 419 cases of high pollution and 18 cases of very high pollution were registered in Atyrau alone. In Almaty, 20 per cent of air pollution is produced by the private sector and thermal power systems, and 80 per cent comes from vehicles. The amount of unburned hydrocarbons in the environment and the products of their incomplete combustion is much higher in gasoline-powered cars than in diesel cars. But diesel-powered cars produce more soot or black carbon.
Almaty, which has the highest level of air pollution in Kazakhstan, is now one of the 25 most polluted cities in the world. Last year, the level of air pollution in Almaty was 14.3, this year the figure is 13.5. According to experts, this is possible due to the comprehensive program to reduce environmental pollution in Almaty.
Despite the lack of large enterprises and factories that pollute the air together with the favourable topographic conditions, unfortunately, the city of Astana (Nur-Sultan) is also included in the category of cities with high levels of air pollution. At the beginning of 2021, some areas of the city were recorded as having hazardous levels of air pollution with a US AQI reading of 306. Other high readings were 192 and 168. However, three ground-monitoring stations reported lower levels with figures of 48, 41 and 11. Do a lot depends on the area of the city as to how polluted the air is.
According to officials in Nur-Sultan 3.8 million tons of coal will be burnt in one winter, and the private sector will burn 500 thousand tons of coal. 4.5 million tons of coal will be used to heat the capital. As a result, 40 thousand tons of harmful waste will be released into the atmosphere. The “heating season” usually finishes around the third week in April and already the level of PM2.5 is decreasing. This trend continues until mid-October when the weather begins to turn cold and the next “heating season” begins.
Polluted air is the largest environmental threat to human health in the world. Although there are no large industrial facilities in the region, Almaty ranks first in the country in terms of respiratory, endocrine system diseases, blood diseases, cancer and bronchial asthma. During the analysis of the air in the city, more than a hundred volatile organic compounds known as VOCs were identified. Most of them are carcinogens. VOCs play a key role in creating the ozone layer near the earth's surface, which poisons the lungs of urban plants and living things. This is often called ground-level ozone.
Finely dispersed dust (PM2.5) is not radiation and does not kill immediately, but accumulates in the body. Such dust causes cardiovascular disease, chronic bronchitis and is carcinogenic. It can also be a major cause of premature death. It is so small that it easily overcomes the body's natural barriers and immediately enters the lungs. This dust is very difficult to remove from the body, but it easily disrupts the normal functioning.
Particulate matter is possibly the worst type of pollution as it drastically affects the human body. It is known to increase outbreaks of asthma, heart and lung disease. Hospital admissions and emergency room visits for respiratory problems increase when there is a high concentration of PM2.5 in the air. Decreased lung function that can be experienced as shortness of breath.
Ozone is a strong irritant that can limit the airways, forcing the respiratory system to work harder to provide oxygen. It can also aggravate respiratory diseases such as emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma. Deep parts of the lungs can become irrevocably damaged, even after symptoms such as a cough or sore throat decline. Resistance to infection becomes more serious and it leads to feeling fatigued more often. Minor effects can include noisy breathing, chest pains, dry throat, headaches and nausea.
Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in red blood cells. People with heart disease are more likely to develop chest pain when exposed to low levels of carbon monoxide. Exposure to high levels of it can decrease reflexes and cause confusion and drowsiness. In enclosed spaces such as a garage, it can soon cause death by suffocation because of the high levels of concentration.
According to the World Health Organisation, nine out of ten people in the world breathe polluted air. The organisation estimates that air pollution kills seven million people each year. Restrictive measures imposed in connection with the coronavirus pandemic in various cities around the world have helped to reduce air fog and significantly improve air quality. American and European researchers have found a link between air quality and the COVID-19 virus.