The City of Prague consistently monitors its environmental quality. It produces an annual publication, the object of which is to provide comprehensive information on the state of Prague’s environment. Information concerning the quality of air is part of the report.
Similarly, the quality of water and noise pollution as well as the quality of air is monitored. The monitoring is done by the so-called Air Pollution Sources Register (the Czech acronym is REZZO). There are four categories of atmospheric pollution sources in the REZZO Register, 1 to 4. The first three classes comprise of stationary sources (with 1 as the biggest polluter), the fourth one concerns mobile sources (mostly private cars). In the cases of the first three sources of pollution (REZZO 1–3), we monitor solid particle pollutants: sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon oxide, ammonia, heavy metals; persistent organic pollutants (chemical substances that can, in high concentrations, pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health).
Other factors that are monitored are emissions and imissions (air quality). Generally speaking, both represent concentrations of smog and other pollutants in the air. Emissions are measured directly by the source of pollution, and imissions are measured in the vicinity of the source.
According to the Yearbook for 2005, there has been a long-term emission reduction in solid particle pollutants, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides from stationary sources. This positive trend results partly from a decrease in fuel consumption and partly from the change in heating fuel usage (replacing solid fuels by gaseous fuels). The Report on the Environment in 2006 also confirms a long term decrease of emissions. The biggest emission sources are: public and industrial power supplies, household heating, solvents and agricultural activities. Regarding the mobile sources, the most significant source of air pollution is automobile traffic.
Imissions (the level of air pollution) are measured within the state’s network of automated and manual measuring stations. They are managed by Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. Unfortunately, in this area there has been an increase, which is most apparent with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a particle that can negatively influence the lung’s activity and body immunity. The limits are exceeded only at a restricted number of localities, especially at places with the heaviest traffic load in big cities. Out of 180 locations where the monitoring of NO2 was carried out in 2006, the annual limit was exceeded in 15 of them.
The biggest problem is caused by the chemical fractions, PM10 and PM2.5, particles which are produced either by natural sources (volcanoes or dust storms) or by human activities such as: power plants, industrial and technological processes, transport, fuel and waste incineration. Even in very small concentrations they negatively influence immunity and cause inflammation of the lungs and other tissues. Unfortunately, as the report reveals, concentration of these particles exceeded annual limits, and this was true as much in the larger area of the monitored territory.
There was a slight increase in the annual concentrations of benzene, which can damage the formation of blood cells, and is carcinogenic. The concentration of Benzo[a]pyrene in the troposphere ozone increased especially in mountain areas. The above stated data applies to the air quality of the whole Republic.
In Prague there are the two major pollutants already mentioned. Of the industrial sources, according to the Yearbook for 2005, it mentions the heat generating company Pražská teplárenská, and the heating plant Malešice. The other factor is automobile traffic which causes about 80-90% of emissions. This is an area where we need to apply measures to reduce emission levels and thus improve the quality of environment in the Capital.
Two strategic documents were summarised into one publication called “Integrated Regional Programme for Pollutants Emissions Reduction and on Air Quality Improvement on the Territory of the City of Prague Agglomeration”. The main objective of the programme is to reduce emissions to under the national emission limits and to reach imissions’ standards for the whole area of Prague. Out of twenty five measures included in the document, sixteen are related to transport.
Changes in heating methods are another option that can lead to the improvement in quality of air. This is especially true for older houses. A grant programme was established which gives grants to everyone who changes heating methods (especially of solid fuel) to more ecological ones. Thanks to this precaution, between 1994 and 2005, there was an approximate 22% drop in flats heated by solid fuel.
Source: The Yearbook Prague – The Environment 2006
Report on the Environment 2006