According to Eurostat, the highest concentration of hazardous fine particles is found in urban areas of Bulgaria (19.6 g / m3), Poland (19.3 g / m3), Romania (16.4 g / m3) and from Croatia (16 g / m3), writes Cristian Gherasim.
Among the EU Member States, urban areas in Bulgaria have the highest concentration of fine particles, well above the levels recommended by the World Health Organization.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Northern Europe has the lowest levels of fine particle pollution with PM2.5 in the EU. Estonia (4.8 g / m3), Finlandea (5.1 ľg / m3) and Sweden (5.8 ľg / m3), occupy the first places for the purest air.
PM2.5 are the most dangerous fine pollutants, with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns. Unlike PM10 (i.e. 10 micron particles), PM2.5 particles can be more harmful to health because they penetrate deep into the lungs. Pollutants such as fine particles suspended in the atmosphere reduce life expectancy and well-being and can lead to the onset or aggravation of many chronic and acute respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Romania has some of the hardest hit regions in the European Union by various air pollutants.
According to a study published in March by the global air quality platform IQAir, Romania was ranked 15th among the most polluted countries in Europe in 2020 and the capital Bucharest ranked 51st in the world. The most polluted capital in the world is Delhi (India). In contrast, the purest air can be found on islands in the middle of the ocean, such as the Virgin Islands and New Zealand, or in the capitals of the Nordic countries, Sweden and Finland.
The bad news for Romania also comes from air quality monitoring company Airly, which singled out Poland and Romania for some of the highest pollution levels on the continent. The report also revealed that Cluj, another city in Romania, is not among the most polluted cities in the EU and even ranks first in nitrogen dioxide pollution.
According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution is the highest health risk in the European Union, with around 379,000 premature deaths from exposure. Power stations, heavy industry and increased automobile traffic are the main causes of pollution.
The European Union called on local authorities to better monitor air quality, identify sources of pollution and promote policies that limit pollution by reducing traffic.
Brussels has already targeted Romania on air pollution. He launched a lawsuit for excessive levels of air pollution in three cities: Iasi, Bucharest and Brasov.
London-based NGO specializing in sustainable behavior change says people in urban areas need to make decisions for a lifestyle that promotes better air quality and the environment: choose to travel by carpooling , with bicycles or electric scooters, instead of cars.
In Eastern Europe, air pollution coupled with poor waste management and low levels of recycling has created a dangerous concoction. In Romania, in addition to air quality, the low recycling rate obliges local authorities to intervene.
It is infamous that Romania is one of the European countries with the lowest levels of waste recycling and local authorities are required to pay large sums each year in fines for not complying with EU environmental regulations. . In addition, there is a legislative proposal that would mean that a certain tax on plastic, glass and aluminum packaging would be applied from next year.
EU Reporter previously presented the case of the Ciugud community in central Romania which aims to reward recycling using locally developed cryptocurrency.
The eponymous virtual currency named CIUGUban – bringing together the name of the village with the Romanian word for money – will be used in its first stage of implementation only to reimburse citizens who bring plastic containers to recycling collection units. The CIUGUban will be given to residents bringing plastic, glass or aluminum packaging and cans to collection centers.
The community of Ciugud is responding to the EU’s call for local communities to intervene and change their environmental problems.
As previously mentioned, in Ciugud, the first unit of this type which donates money for garbage has already been installed in the yard of the local school. In a Publish On the Facebook of the Ciugud town hall, the authorities indicated that the unit is already full of plastic waste collected and brought by children. The pilot project is implemented by the local government in partnership with an American company, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of RVM (Reverse Vending Machines).
When the project was launched earlier this month, officials mentioned that the skillful approach was particularly aimed at educating and encouraging children to collect and recycle reusable waste. According to the press release, the children are challenged to recycle as much packaging as possible by the end of the summer vacation and collect as many virtual coins as possible. At the start of the school year, the virtual coins collected will be converted so that children can use the money to finance small projects and educational or extracurricular activities.
Ciugud thus becomes the first community in Romania to launch its own virtual currency. The effort is part of a larger local strategy to make Ciugud the first smart village in Romania.
Ciugud plans to go even further. In the second phase of the project, the local administration of Ciugud will set up recycling stations in other areas of the municipality, and citizens could receive in exchange for virtual coins discounts in shops in the village, which will enter This program.
The town hall of Ciugud is even analyzing the possibility that in the future citizens could use virtual currencies to benefit from certain tax reductions, an idea that would include the promotion of a legislative initiative in this regard.
“Romania is the penultimate in the European Union when it comes to recycling, and that means penalties paid by our country for not meeting environmental targets. We started this project because we want to educate future citizens of Ciugud. It is important for our children to learn to recycle and to protect the environment, it is the most important inheritance they will receive “, said Gheorghe Damian, mayor of the municipality of Ciugud.
Talk to EU journalistCity Hall representative Dan Lungu explained: “The Ciugud project is one of several other initiatives designed to teach children about recycling, green energy and environmental protection. In addition to CiugudBan, we have also set up an “Eco Patrol”, a group of school children who go out into the community and teach people about the importance of recycling, how to collect waste and how to live more environmentally. “
Dan Lungu said EU journalist that it was only by involving the children that they were able to collect and recycle more from the citizens of Ciugud. The second phase of the project will also involve a local supplier, offering CiugudBan goods and services to residents in return.
“And in the third part of the project, we want to use CiugudBan to pay taxes and utilities,” he said. EU journalist.
It remains to be seen whether such small-scale projects across Europe would be sufficient to effectively tackle the environmental challenges facing Eastern Europe.