Фото: Борче Поповски

“Meta.mk” continues with the investigation of the influence of the traffic on the air quality in Skopje. The coronavirus outbreak in the past few months has helped prove that the decreased frequency of vehicles throughout Skopje’s streets has led to decrease of the PM 2.5 and PM10 particles and the nitric oxide in the Skopje’s air during April 2020.

PE “Streets and roads” has submitted data from the Center for Traffic Management and Control in Skopje about the frequency of vehicle movements at three intersections during the period between 6th and the 12th of April 2020. These locations were compared with the weekly period between 18th and 24th of March 2019. This data shows the frequency of vehicles was decreased by 2 to 2.5 times in April 2020 compared to the identical period last year.

At the intersection between the boulevards “Partizanski odredi” and “Sv. Kliment Ohridski” near the Cathedral Church of Saint Clement of Ohrid (Soborna Crkva), during the measuring at the start of April, 99.209 vehicle were registered. During the period of one week in March 2019 on the same location there were 184.819 vehicles i.e. twice more compared to this year.

At the junction between “11 Oktomvri”, “Dame Gruev” and “Filip Vtori”streets near the Parliament, in the period between the 6th and 12th of April 2020, 117.659 vehicles were registered, while on the same location during March 2019, the automatic counters have registered 2.5 times more traffic.

Almost identical data was received from the third location near the Skopje Zoo at the intersection between Ilinden boulevard and the Frenklin Ruzvelt Street. In April 2020, at this junction, 92.769 vehicles have passed through while a year earlier, the counters have registered a total of 235.738 vehicles.

The decreased frequency of vehicles by 2 or 2.5 times during the coronavirus crisis was compared to the data provided by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning for  April 2020 against the identical month last y ear. The data shows that the air pollution this year was lowered by up to one third compared to last year.

The most dangerous particles that are emitted in the air – the PM 2.5 particles were lower by one third at the measuring stations in Center and Karposh during April 2020 and this was the average of the daily concentration for the whole month. At the measuring station at Centar, the decrease of PM 2.5 particles in April 2020 was 25.7%. The average for April 2020 was 20.12 µg/m3while in April 2019 it was 29.08 µg/m3.

At he measuring station in Karposh, the average  the daily concentration of PM 2.5 particles in April 2020 was 19.39 µg/m3, while in April 2019 it was 26.09 µg/m3. It should be noted that maximum allowed concentration of PM 2.5 particles int he air is 25 µg/m3. Accordingly, the decreased traffic including the lower industrial activity during the coronavirus period, has contributed to the presence od PM 2.5 particles within the allowed parameters.

Almost identical data was received about the presence of PM 10 particles in Skopje. At the measuring station at the Skopje University, the average for April 2020 was 33.01 µg/m3 or far below the threshold of allowed 50 µg/m3. The average for April 2019 was 45.43 µg/m3 i.e. this year there was a decrease of the presence of PM 1 particles by 27.3% at this measuring station.

The data from of the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning show that during the past month on two locations, the monitoring stations Lisiche and at the Skopje University, the safe daily concentrations of PM10 particles were surpassed during three days only. Against that, in April 2019, the number of days when the safe limit for the presence of PM10 particles in the air was much bigger by several times. At the monitorign stationat the University in April 2019, this has happened over a period of 9 days, while in Centar and Karposh it was 5 days during the month. It should be noted that the measuring stations in Lisiche and Gazi Baba were out of order during April 2019.

The data about the presence of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) indicate that the safe value hasn’t been surpassed at any measuring station in Skopje during the two periods. At the University in April 20120 an increase of the average value of NO2 was noticed compared to the same month last year but then again, the vice versa was registered at the measuring stations in Lisiche and Karposh. In any case, the allowed one hour safe value of 200 µg/m3 of NO2 hasn’t been reached at any of the measuring stations.

It has been proven by various studies that the air pollution in Skopje comes from several factors and not just the traffic. Still, the measurings in April 2020 show much lower daily values of temperatures compared to the same month, last year when the weather was warmer. This means that this year, the citizens and companies had to heat the rooms more but despite this, the measured data for April 2020 show a decrease of the air pollution with PM 2.5, PM 10 particles and the NO2.

Meta.mk has already written that the number of registered vehicles in Skopje has been continually growing from year to year. The State Statistic Bureau has evidenced 149.484 registered vehicles in the capital, a number that is constantly on the rise. Only last year, 49.000 cars were imported out of which 41.400 were used cars, show the data provided by North Macedonia’s Customs Office.