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live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Moderate|| 56* US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Minsk is currently 2.9 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
Moderate 56 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 1|
Moderate 58 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 2|
Moderate 56 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 3|
Good 32 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 4|
Good 16 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 5|
Good 48 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Moderate 68 AQI US
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Minsk is the capital and the largest city of Belarus and is located on the Svislač and the Niamiha rivers. In January 2018 the estimated population was almost 2 million people.
At the start of 2021, Minsk was enjoying a period of “Good” quality air with a US AQI reading of just 9. This is according to the recommended figures provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The recorded concentration of PM2.5 was 2.1 µg/m³. With levels as low as these doors and windows can be opened to let some fresh air inside and all outdoor activities can be enjoyed without fear.
According to official statistics, vehicles account for about 87 per cent of air pollutant emissions in the capital, and only 13 per cent from industrial enterprises.
The main percentage of emissions comes from the largest industrial and thermal power enterprises: Minskenergo, Minsk Tractor Plant, Minsk Water Treatment Plant, Minsk Heating Equipment Plant and Minsk Automobile Plant. A permit is issued for each enterprise, which sets the standards for permissible harmful emissions into the air from stationary sources. The main contributors to air pollution conduct local monitoring of emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere. Almost every large enterprise has its own accredited laboratories that monitor compliance with emission standards. Those who do not have such laboratories arrange contracts for the measurement with third parties. In the 1st half of 2018, such control was carried out at 148 stationary sources of emissions of pollutants into the air. Exceeding the maximum permissible parameters was revealed only in two cases.
Transport continues to make the largest contribution to air pollution. According to data for 2019, the share of mobile sources in the total volume of emissions in the country is 63 per cent, and in Minsk, it is 88 per cent. The share of emissions from mobile sources has decreased from 69 per cent in 2012 to 63 per cent in 2019, so there is a definite sign of improvement.
It is difficult to compare the situation in Belarus with European countries, because in every country, in every city the level of pollution is different. Nevertheless, the problem of air pollution in Belarus is definitely worth paying close attention to. In Minsk, for example, more than half of the emissions are pollution by exhaust gases from vehicles. The main area of polluted air is around Novopolotsk, where local industry also contributes to the unusually poor quality air.
In order to decrease car emissions, a number of procedures are being introduced: These are, for instance, the development of a network of urban electric passenger vehicles (trolleybuses, trams and city trains), the construction and expansion of metro lines, the development of a network for the use of electric buses, as well as charging infrastructure for electric vehicles which would be available for anybody to use. Public attention to these problems, which is formed through various environmental programs and actions, such as, the European Mobility Week, is of great help in the ecological improvement of the city.
By means of encouragement, the city organised a “Car Free” day where drivers were welcome to the free use of public transport on the production of vehicle registration documents and a driver’s license.
Since 2016, only fuel equivalent to class K5 can be sold in the country. Belarusian manufacturers have now mastered the production of equipment that meets the environmental standards Euro-5 and Euro-6.
According to the World Health Organisation, in 2016, almost half the number of deaths due to diseases associated with air pollution were due to coronary heart disease and stroke, almost 20 per cent due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute lower respiratory tract infections, and more 6 per cent were due to lung cancer.
A global study reported that dirty air, especially that with a high content of PM2.5, takes away almost a year of life from Belarusians (0.95). For comparison: in Poland, this indicator is 0.75, in Russia, it is 0.77 and in Latvia, it is 0.67.
The most dangerous compounds for humans in the air are fine particles, PM10 and PM2.5. By themselves, they can be neutral, but other toxic substances adhere to them, because of which they turn into concentrated "bombs". We breathe them in, and all this settles in the lungs. Wherever there is dust, where there is little vegetation, people living there will have health problems because of this, the experts say.
In the large Belarusian cities presented in the 2015 WHO study, the amount of coarse and fine particulate matter exceeds the values recommended by the organisation. The levels are decreasing over the last 6 years so things are starting to look better.
Planting trees, bushes and any other growing plant can help to trap dust which can be a very effective method of cleaning the air in the local area.
Apartments with windows facing the side of the road will receive much more dirty air than those with windows facing the courtyard. When opening doors and windows to let in clean air, open the ones that do not face the street. It is better to postpone the ventilation to early morning or late evening when the air is not as contaminated as much because of the lower levels of traffic at those times of the day. Wet cleaning or spraying the ground that is the closest to the road will prevent the ingress of dust.
When walking on foot, try to walk close to the courtyards or in the park. If walking on the street is unavoidable, walk as far away from the roadway as possible and wear a good quality mask, so as not to breathe exhaust gases along the roads.
Residents of large cities can monitor the situation regarding air quality on the website of the environmental monitoring centre. If there are warnings about the appearance of smog and increased levels of air pollution, you can, for example, decide whether to take the trip or delay it until the quality improves.