Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea has challenged the legitimacy of an air quality company which measures pollution levels in the capital, responding to criticism from the environment minister who claimed residents were “inhaling poison.”
Firea, who is fighting off accusations that she has failed to tackle growing air pollution, cast doubt on the sensors used by a new company, saying it didn’t have a permit from the environment ministry.
Aerlive.ro, a platform that monitors air quality was launched last month by a group of non-governmental organizations and has about 100 sensors in Bucharest. Created by a Romanian entrepreneur in the southwestern city of Timisoara, it has been accredited by Romanian authorities.
Firea, however, said she had faith in data from the National Network for Monitoring Air Quality.
But Buletin de București online news site reported that air pollution sensors in north Bucharest placed by the air quality institute had been deactivated or specially placed in areas with a lot of vegetation that that didn’t measure true levels of pollution.
Last week, Environment Minister Costel Alexe told Firea that residents were “inhaling poison,” a reference to recent high levels of pollution recorded in the city.
Firea earlier told Alexe to move out of the capital of 2 million if he didn’t like it. He retorted she should move to Bucharest from her home about 20 kilometers northeast of the city.
But Firea claimed that she had taken steps to improve air quality, which she said was the fourth most polluted city in Romania, and not the most polluted city as it had previously been.
On Jan. 4, the Agency to Protect the Bucharest Environment reported pollution levels of 300 to 400 % higher than the permitted levels in parts of the capital. Airly.eu an agency which measures air quality said pollution levels exceeded usual levels by 200 % to almost 700 %.