In 2012 the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment of Slovenia monitored and analysed the state of the air quality as part of their Environment Indications Report.
This report and analyses has developed in the past 4 years. Nataša Kovač who was one of the original authors of this report, explains that at the moment they are waiting for new data to write a follow-up report on the current state of affairs. She also explains that due to the economic crises in 2008 air pollution levels went down but preliminary measures for 2015 indicate that levels are going back up. The pollution problem seems to be closely related to traffic and transport and also seems to have to do with the heating of homes. The Indicator Report uses a measure of 50 ug/m3 of particulate matter (PM10) on more than 35 days a year just like the European Environment Agency.
The capital city Ljubljana is one of the cities on the Ljubljanica river. For centuries the city has been an East-West transport throughway in Europe. As a result of this a lot of traffic passes very near the heart of Ljubljana. The consequence of this is that people are exposed to high levels of particulate matter (PM10), since this is mainly found in exhaust gasses.
Peter Otorepec, of the National Institute of Public Heath of Slovenia was interested to find out if there is a relationship between the high number of children with Asthma and their closeness to highways particularly in the region of Ljubljana. According to the Environmental Indicator Report, 40% of the children in Slovenia are exposed to PM10. Other health risks due to air pollution are in the long term, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory illness.
One of the logical solutions indicated in the report has been to close a few roads nearest to the city centre where the population is the highest. “Closing few roads for traffic was an easy enough task to accomplish. At this moment we can assume that the air is less polluted than it was in 2012, because of measurements taken and we are waiting for the 2016 data”, according to Peter Otorepec, one of the other authors of the Environment Indications Report.
In 2014 the air pollution level in the area of Ljubljana decreased from 36 to 28 PM10. Important to note is that this viewer shows the level of air pollutants at the measuring station. However, pollutants may be transported or formed over long distances form their source and they may affect large areas, according to Antti Kaartinen of the European Environment Agency.
The report recommends improving the air quality by enhancing the efficiency in the transport sector and by using green technologies and alternative sources of fuel in transport.
It is difficult to achieve these goals, according to Peter Otorepec: “The problem is that we have to give this problem a lot of exposure by informing people. You can’t say to children and their families: “go away from the big road and live somewhere else.” We try to warn people: we make calculations, assumptions and put measures in place. For the future we want to prevent people from building houses near big roads.”
Ljubljana is well on its way to achieving these goals; it has been the Green Capital of Europe in 2016 and furthermore, in the past decade the region has developed itself in a sustainable way. Focussing on waste management, nature conservation and green transport; they have come a long way from the coal burning industries.