March 4, 2021

The warning for pollution is down despite the high rates of Barcelona | Catalonia

The Generalitat deactivated yesterday all the alerts by pollution episodes despite the fact that in the center of Barcelona the carbon monoxide peaks with which neighbors live are still far superior to those recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The investigators denounce that the Catalan administration has not had enough courage to activate the protocol that restricts access to the area framed by the rounds, to the most polluting vehicles and accuses the Generalitat and the City Council of not taking measures to reduce the pollution.

The WHO establishes that human beings can withstand -without negative effects on health- an annual average of 40 micrograms per cubic meter of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The average recorded this year in the station that measures the quality of the air in the Eixample of Barcelona is 49 micrograms per cubic meter. Last Friday, the same station registered a figure of 207 micrograms per cubic meter for more than an hour and until Saturday those levels were not reduced. Yesterday, the same station marked an average of 60 micrograms, with tips of 80. It is not a unique case, the station of the square of Gal·la Placídia de Gràcia registered on Friday a peak of 233 micrograms per cubic meter and yesterday of 50 .

Despite these figures, the Department of Territory and Sustainability deactivated yesterday all the alerts for episodes of pollution that had declared on Monday after, as the administration remarked, improve air quality. The Generalitat on Monday declared an episode due to high contamination by PM10 microparticles (those with a diameter of up to 10 microns) throughout Catalonia. Despite the alarming situation, pollution by this type of particles does not entail any restriction of traffic. This alarm, without incidence in the circulation, was reduced yesterday to preventive warning. Territory also yesterday ended the warning of episode of pollution by NO2 that, if it had followed according to weather forecasts, would have meant the restriction, as of Thursday, of vehicles that did not have the DGT label on the framed perimeter for the rounds.

Both the CSIC researcher, Xavier Querol, and Ecologists in Action, Miguel Ángel Ceballos, agree that on Friday the Generalitat should have restricted circulation since, following the protocol, they had exceeded 200 micrograms of carbon dioxide by cubic meter for one hour in more than one station of municipalities of the Metropolitan Area. The 24-hour forecast did not indicate improvements, but the Catalan administration supported the fact that the protocol only indicates traffic restrictions on weekdays, from Monday to Friday at noon. Last Friday, the episode of NO2 contamination was not even activated.

Ceballos maintains that the current protocol is insufficient: "Not only because it applies measures when it is too late, but because it does not apply any restriction to circulation when there are episodes due to contamination by ozone or by microparticles. In fact, only those with a diameter of up to 10 microns and not those of five microns appear that are even more harmful. " On the other hand, Querol describes as "absolutely insufficient" the measures of the administrations to reduce the annual average of pollution. "Promoting public transport, with urban tolls, restrictions, low emission areas … levels could be reduced. When there are peaks it is much more complicated to lower the contamination, "he warns.

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