Specialists: Transport Exhaust & Constructions Pollute Air in Tbilisi

Specialists of the Environmental Pollution Monitoring Department of the NEA (National Environmental Agency of Georgia) have started to examine the air quality in various locations throughout Tbilisi with the help of mobile stations.

They have already checked some of the busiest streets, and claim that Tsereteli Avenue in the Didube district is the most polluted place so far regarding air pollution.

The specialists added that the Queen Tamar Avenue monitor showed that the amount of nitrogen dioxide exceeds the norm by 1.3 times, which is dangerous to health.

Meanwhile, the cleanest air so far observed was in the Vashlijvari settlement.

The Head of the Environmental Pollution Monitoring Department of the NEA, Marina Arabidze, says the monitoring will cover suburbs and other streets too, adding that air quality will be constantly controlled in the capital.

She stated that the main reason for the air pollution in Tbilisi are car exhaust fumes and the ongoing constructions in Tbilisi, with construction companies not following the standards to avoid polluting the air.

Noe Megrelishvili from the NEA says they have measured air quality at 25 locations periodically and revealed that the places where traffic is the busiest are the most polluted in terms of nitrogen dioxide.

Doctors say that polluted air increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and ischaemic heart diseases, in addition to its role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

Oncologist Giorgi Dzagnidze says polluted air affects water and food quality in Georgia, adding this increases the cases of cancer and deaths.

Disease Control Center Department Head Lela Sturua says the situation is “alarming” but can be solved by controlling fuel quality, banning old cars and renewing public transport in the capital.

“Public transport must be developed so that the population reduces the use of their private cars, of which there are too many in the capital,” she noted.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze stated at a City Hall sitting that old yellow buses are the main source of the air pollution in the capital.

Kaladze claimed that in the coming days, the Mayor’s Office will present a new Transport Policy, which will be aimed at solving the mentioned problem along with a number of other issues.

“Yellow buses, minibuses and their exhaust fumes cause serious problems for the environment. We need to tighten regulations in order to reduce car and bus emissions in the capital,” he said.

The Mayor added that along with public transport, old cars also pose a threat to the ecology, adding their import must be banned.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says polluted air also increases cases of premature deaths. According to the WHO 2016 survey, the countries ranked by deaths per 100,000 people attributed to air pollution are led by Georgia, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Korea, and Bulgaria, though countries like China and India have more total deaths from air pollution since they much more population.

Environmentalists say that Tbilisi desperately needs green zones and that more recreational areas should be set up throughout the city.

Experts state that the quality of fuel consumed in Georgia determines how severe and damaging the emissions are, claiming the fuel used by city-dwellers in the capital is not regularly checked.

As Numbeo, one of the world's largest databases of user contributed data about cities and countries worldwide states, as of June 2018, the air pollution index in Georgia amounts to 79.22, while the pollution index itself is 77.52, which is a high indicator.

The NEA of Georgia says that the country is taking steps to provide better systems of measuring air quality and tighten control in this field.

By Thea Morrison

05 July 2018 18:14