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Air Pollution In Attard Worse Than Beijing Last Week As Smog Cloud Looms Over Malta

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We’ve been talking lots about the use of cars in Malta and we’re always talking about the amount of construction going on around the island. But these things are inevitable in a country that’s developing as rapidly as ours. Right?

Perhaps. But now it seems that Malta’s got its very own smog cloud

Malta has four stations that monitor air quality. They’re looking at PM2.5 (which looks at small particles, including transport emissions which are harmful to our health) and PM10 (that monitors dust particles, etc.), as well as ozone and other air pollutants.

The impact of PM2.5 and PM10 on health is incontrovertible,” Daniel Cauchi, a Maltese specialist in Public Health Medicine, warned. “And in Malta, PM levels are starting to reach unhealthy levels.”

Smog Cloud 1

These stations are located in Għarb (Gozo), Żejtun, Msida and Attard. Data is automatically uploaded to an air quality monitoring website and is categorised into good, moderate, unhealthy ratings according to air quality index criteria.

Dr Cauchi has observed that on calm, sunny mornings of high atmospheric pressure, when there is no wind, there seems to be a layer of pollution over central Malta.

“Malta’s very own smog. This is particularly visible from areas of high elevation, such as the Tarxien / Santa Lucija roundabout on top of the Addolorata hill, or from Triq Garibaldi (Marsa)”

Dr Cauchi told Lovin Malta that a grey smog is clearly visible over areas where there is most traffic. “I have only observed this in the mornings so far, between 8:30 and 9:30am.”

Smog Cloud 2

Smog seen over central Malta and Harbour area from Addolorata

This sparked his interest, and so he started to look at the AQI website more frequently. He is trying to identify patterns of air pollution, and has noticed that:

“On calm days, there seem to be spikes of PM2.5 during or just after the rush hours, particularly in the morning from 9-10am and early evening 7-8pm. Recently, on the 20th February, air pollution levels in Attard, which seems to be consistently the most affected, exceeded those of Beijing a couple of hours later (7pm Beijing time) and reached unhealthy levels. Gozo is by far the least affected by air pollution, although the proposed tunnel might change that in the future.”

Smog Cloud 3

Left: Air pollution levels monitored in Attard, Right: Air pollution levels monitored in Beijing, both taken on Wednesday 20th February at different intervals

Dr Cauchi has based this research on personal observations that he has made. He commented that the air monitoring stations upload data on an hourly basis and proposes research to confirm and analyse potential trends in air quality through this online tool.

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