Increased concentrations of air pollutants negativelly affect human health and lead to pulmonary and cardio-vascular diseases, even premature death. According to the European Environment Agency exposure to air pollution annually causes about 400,000 premature deaths in Europe. In Slovakia, approximately 5,000 people die prematurely each year. Especially sensitive groups are children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with allergies and asthma.
Air quality in Slovakia is still unsatisfactory despite the marked improvement in last decades caused by strict legislation targeting large sources of pollution. In present, power industry, household heating, and transport are the problematic areas. Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic announced plans to change the legal regulations. Minister Budaj remarked within this context: “Aim of the new legislation is effective air quality management. We have to bring polluters under control. Protection of health and wellbeing of our citizens is the only priority.”
Measures to improve air quality in Slovakia
Ministry is also planning to update the air pollution source authorization process, introduce household inspection and prohibit the use of high-emission boilers. To improve the awareness and information on air quality Slovak hydrometeorological institute is currently enlarging the National air quality monitoring network with 14 new stations in new locations.
One of the important measures the ministry has introduced is the national network of air quality managers (AQM). AQM role is to provide state and local authorities with professional advice and improve implementation of measures taken to improve the air quality in regions.
Environmental awareness, involvement
Minister Budaj invited public to become more involved in the air protection and awareness: “Air protection is often overlooked, but it is the key area in environment protection. It is time to change and take a deep breath.” Public was asked to join the social media challenge sharing the hashtag #zamodruoblohu [for blue skies].