MaltaToday | 10 August 2008

NEWS | Sunday, 10 August 2008

Floriana’s St Anne street is Malta’s most polluted place

Floriana’s main road, St Anne street, is officially the most polluted place in Malta according to MEPA’s latest environmental indicators.
The principal artery to Valletta registered a harmful concentration of benzene and nitrogen dioxide which well exceeds EU standards.
On a national level, average benzene levels increased by 8% from 2005 to 2006 but EU levels were exceeded in five streets.
Benzene is a carcinogenic pollutant which is harmful in any dose. It is released in the air through the incomplete combustion of petrol from cars.
While the EU sets a limit of 5 micropoise per cubic metre (µp/m3), benzene levels in St Anne street reached 7.14 µp/m3 in 2006.
Another heavily polluted road was Manwel Dimech street in Sliema, where benzene levels also exceeded EU limits.
Nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that interferes with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen and results in dizziness and even respiratory failure in cases of prolonged exposure, also thrives in St Anne Square. The main source of this pollutant is vehicle exhaust and power station emissions.
In St Anne, 92.8 µp/m3 of nitrogen dioxide was recorded in 2006 – a remarkable increase of 16% over 2005 levels. St Anne Square was followed by Eucharistic Congress road in Mosta.
In both cases, the levels of nitrogen dioxide exceeded EU limits of 40 µp/m3.
Fgura emerges as one of Malta’s most polluted localities, registering the highest level of benzene and the third highest levels of nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide. Fgura, whose average benzene levels are just below the EU limit, has the highest benzene levels in Malta, closely followed by Sliema.
Gozitan localities have the lowest levels of benzene.
The highest levels of nitrogen dioxide exceeding EU limits were found in Hamrun, Fgura and Floriana. In Floriana, nitrogen oxide levels were double the EU limit.
Another source of pollution derives from particulate matter, which are invisible dust particles that are smaller than 10 millionths of a metre. This type of pollution is only measured in four stations in Msida, Floriana, Paola, and Zejtun.
In Zejtun, the EU limits on particulate matter were only exceeded during just two days of the 176 days measured. But in Msida these were exceeded on 50 days of the 169 days measured.
Notable improvements were registered in sulphur dioxide pollution, which fell by 41% from 2005 to 2006. The EU hourly average limit value of 350 µp/m3 was only exceeded twice in the Floriana station.

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