Air quality of Prague: traffic as a main pollution source
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Political and economical transition in the Central and Eastern Europe at the end of eighties significantly influenced all aspects of life as well as technological infrastructure. Collapse of outdated energy demanding industry and adoption of environmental legislation resulted in seeming improvements of urban environmental quality. Hand in hand with modernization the newly adopted regulations also helped to phase out low quality coal frequently used for domestic heating. However, at the same time, the number of vehicles registered in the city increased. The two processes interestingly acted as parallel but antagonistic forces. To interpret the trends in urban air quality of Prague, Czech capital, monthly averages of PM10, SO2, NO2, NO, O3 and CO concentrations from the national network of automated monitoring stations were analyzed together with long term trends in fuel consumption and number of vehicles registered in Prague within a period of 1992–2005. The results showed that concentrations of SO2 (a pollutant strongly related to fossil fuel burning) dropped significantly during the period of concern. Similarly NOX and PM10 concentrations decreased significantly in the first half of the nineties (as a result of solid fuel use drop), but remained rather stable or increased after 2000, presumably reflecting rapid increase of traffic density. In conclusion, infrastructural changes in early nineties had a strong positive effect on Prague air quality namely in the first half of the period studied, nevertheless, the current trend in concentrations of automotive exhaust related pollutants (such as PM10, NOX) needs adoption of stricter measures.
KeywordsUrban air Atmospheric pollution Sulphur dioxide Carbon monoxide Nitrogen dioxide Tropospheric ozone Particulate matter
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