Feeling the

URBAN PULSE

Explore air pollution

in Chișinău and Bălți

 

Dangerous nature of

Breathing in the city

Approximately 7 million people die every year from air pollution. It is one of the most serious threats to global health.

Cities are truly centres of human activities, as more than 55% of the global population is living in urban centres. Unfortunately, more than 80% of people living in cities are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution

The biggest air pollutants encountered in our daily city life are particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Mobirise







Chișinău





Bălți





Chișinău

is the capital city with a population of 700 000. It is the most economically prosperous locality in Moldova and its largest transportation hub. Nearly a third of Moldova's population lives in the metropolitan area, covering 563 km2

Bălți

is the second largest city in Moldova with a population of 150 000 and an area of 78 km2. It is a major industrial, cultural, transportation and commercial centre in the north of the country.

Compare it yourself


Check out the levels of air pollution in Chișinău and Bălți below on your own. The interactive maps allow you to switch between different pollutants. 

More than 60% of the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in European cities comes from cars and other motor vehicles. Other sources are oil and metal refining, electricity generation (especially from coal-fired power stations), manufacturing industries and food processing.

When inhaled, up to 90% of nitrogen dioxide is absorbed into the blood. It affects the metabolism of lungs, causes inflammation and increases vulnerability of the respiratory system towards bacterial and viral infections. 

Particulate matter or atmospheric aerosols are solid or liquid particles in the air. Fine fraction contains smaller ones with the size up to 2.5 µm (PM2.5). It originates primarily from combustion sources, including domestic heating and transport. Other significant sources include industrial processes and power plants.

There is a direct negative effect of the particulate matter concentrations to human health. The effect depends on the size, chemical composition and shape, but generally concerns the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. The toxic effect of PM is enhanced by the content of other pollutants in the air. 

The coarse fraction contains larger particles with the size ranging from 2.5 to 10 µm (PM10). Particulate matter is produced by mechanical processes such as construction activities, road dust and wind. Other significant sources include industrial processes and power plants.

There is a direct negative effect of the particulate matter concentrations to human health. The effect depends on the size, chemical composition and shape, but generally concerns the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. The toxic effect of PM is enhanced by the content of other pollutants in the air. 

Unlike the beneficial ozone layer high in the atmosphere, ground-level ozone (O3) occurs just above the earth's surface. Ozone at the Earth’s surface is the main element of summer smog, but it is not emitted directly from car exhausts. It occurs especially during the sunny days and it is a product of reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other pollutants (volatile organic compounds) already in the air.

Ground-level ozone is dangerous to human health. It causes irritation and respiratory diseases, increases the risk of asthma attacks, eye irritation and headache. 

Levels of pollution varies during the day and night, during the week and weekends or during the seasons. Following graphs show which time of the day, week or year is the best and which is the worst.

Friday is generally the day with the highest pollutant concentrations in cities.. The only exception is ground-level ozone that peaks on Mondays. PM2.5 that exceeds WHO limits in several places across the country has the highest values on Fridays and Saturdays.  

The daily course is much more dependent on the type of pollutant, but keeps the same pattern in the cities. Carbon monoxide, PM2.5, PM10 and sulphur dioxide peak during the morning rush hour, decrease during the day and peak mildly again during the afternoon.
Nitrogen dioxide shows a huge drop during the daytime, while peaking in the early evening. Ground-level ozone, which is produced during sunlight, presents a directly opposite trend and peaks around 1:00 in the afternoon.  

Most major pollutants peak during the winter time. There are two main reasons for that. One goes down to environmental factors, such as lower temperature, lower wind speed or temperature inversions, that helps pollution to stay longer in the air. On the other hand, higher concentrations are also caused by human activities, especially due to heating and higher energy consumption.  

Chișinău
Bălți
Effects of COVID lockdown
The lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak in the spring 2020 caused a serious economic downturn. On the other hand, there was cleaner air in some regions. As you can see, each city was affected differently, nonetheless, the overall change was generally very small.

What can governments do?

Policies supporting the improvement of air quality should focus on four key areas:  

Tax pollution, not people
No subsidizing fossil fuels
No new coal plants
Focus on green economy

Do you want to explore more data? Check our web application below. It enables you to check concentrations of different air pollutants across Moldova during the last 2 to 3 years from the Sentinel 5P satellite and the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

About the project

This story is based on the "COVID-19 Impact on Air Quality in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova", a study realized by World from Space for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) within the European Space Agency EO clinic framework in 2020.

The study contains modified Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service data [2017-2020] and modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2018-2020]. Maps contain data from © OpenStreetMap contributors (openstreetmap.org).

The photos used on this page come from the European Space Agency, Unsplash, Piaxabay and Wikimedia Commons galleries. 

MORE INFO:  office@worldfrom.space
DATE:  September 16, 2020

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