Air pollution levels soared on Saturday evening in parts of Bucharest, as residents turned on the heating when a wave of cooler weather hit the capital.
The airly.eu platform which measures pollution locally across Europe said that at 9pm on Saturday evening there was a 400% spike in pollution of fine air particles and a 300% increase in particles which come from dirt and dust in southwest Bucharest.
The pollution sensors turned red, yellow and orange, indicating pollution had shot past levels considered safe for public health. By Sunday morning, pollution levels were back to normal.
Romania’s environment ministry said only one out of its eight sensors had registered a rise in fine-particle pollution and three of 10 sensors reported an increase in heavy pollution levels.
A European report this week said that air pollution costs Bucharest 6.3 billion euros a year in health and lost work, one of the highest in any European city.
The spike in the evening and during the weekend, when there is less traffic on the roads, making it more unusual. It came as people turned on central heating as temperatures dropped late Saturday to 4C after days of warm weather and above-average temperatures.
The most polluted area in the capital on Saturday evening was Chilia in southwest Bucharest which had 400% higher PM 2.5 particles and 300% more PM10 particles.
The Pipera district in north Bucharest and Buftea, a village just northwest of Bucharest also registered substantial spikes.
PM10 are coarse particles that come from smoke, dirt and dust from factories, farming, and roads, as well as mold, spores, and pollen., while PM 2.5 are much finer particles and more damaging to people’s health.
Air pollution costs Europe 166 billion billion annually, according to a report this week which looked at the costs of premature death, medical costs and lost working days in more than 400 cities.
Only London where pollution costs 11.4 billion euros has higher pollution costs than Bucharest. .
The per capita cost in the Romanian capital is just over 3,000 euros, the study said.
The report was carried out by the CE Delft for the European Public Health Alliance. It reviewed the situation in 432 cities in the EU, Britain, Switzerland and Norway.
Airly provides local and predictive air quality data to enable governments, companies and individuals to reduce air pollution globally
It looked at particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide pollution and analyzed their costs.