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Yerevan in a circle of dust: Technical and legislative reforms are needed

The issue of air pollution in Yerevan is addressed by the Association of Informed Citizens in an article by Sofi Tovmasyan, prepared within the framework of the “Clean City” program implemented with the support of the Czech NGO NESEHNUTI. It should be reminded that during the Yerevan Council of Elders elections, many of the women candidates in interviews with WomenNet.am emphasized the need to solve the problems of landscaping and pollution in the capital. This article is a good opportunity for them to pursue the above-mentioned issues and solution…


The most recent data on atmospheric air quality in Yerevan are from July 2020, according to the information provided by the Hydrometeorological Monitoring Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Armenia. The average monthly concentrations of dust, nitrogen and sulfur dioxide in the capital that month did not exceed the established permissible norms.


In general, atmospheric air pollution monitoring in Yerevan is carried out through 5 fixed and 42 mobile observatories. One of the 5 observatories is located on Komitas Avenue, the other on the Khanjyan-Nalbandyan intersection, the third near the circus, the fourth on Gay Avenue, and the fifth near Erebuni Airport.


The purpose of observations in fixed observatories is to clarify the concentrations of total dust, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, ground-level ozone in the air on a daily basis, and in the case of mobiles – data on the amount of sulfur dioxide on a weekly basis.


According to Gayane Shahnazaryan, Deputy Director of the Hydro-Aeronautical Monitoring Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Armenia there is a lot of road dust, industrial processes, vehicles, agricultural activities, construction, besides, there is no appropriate equipment that will allow to understand what percentage of dust falls in which sector.


“Our observation network is not very up-to-date, we do not have new equipment with which we could carry out measurements and receive information on the volumes of pollutants in real time. “If we have late information on air pollution in the 21st century, it means that our system does not use modern technologies yet,” says Shahnazaryan.


According to her, it takes them 3 days to publish the data, first they take samples, then they carry out analyzes in the laboratory, process them, and only then publish the data. She says that if Armenia could acquire automatic devices that measure at that moment and provide information at the same time, each of us could see with the touch of a finger through any mobile application or program how much air pollution is in that part of the city at that moment. It is not possible now!


Gayane Shahnazaryan is sure that atmospheric air pollution is not only an environmental problem, moreover, it reflects all the mistakes made in the spheres of urban development, economy and transport.


Referring to the dust caused by the construction works carried out in different administrative districts of Yerevan, Shahnazaryan says that it is an endless cycle. That dust does not end anywhere. She mentions that when talking about dust, it should be remembered that Yerevan has a dry climate, in addition to this, wind is a common occurrence in the city, circulates, and we breathe it.


In general, the builders must comply with the requirements of the RA Law on Atmospheric Air Protection, in particular with the norms and requirements provided for in Article 21. The Department of Nature Protection – Subsoil Inspection – Water, Atmosphere, Soil, Waste – Hazardous Materials Control Department is responsible for complying with the standards and requirements set for dust emissions during the construction of buildings under construction, reconstruction and demolition.


According to the head of the department Saghatel Petrosyan, the inspection body carries out inspections not only according to the annual plan, but also on the basis of applications, complaints and the instruction of the head. He notes that at present the main problem in Yerevan is the construction and production companies, during the activities of which there are emissions. If they pose a serious threat to human health and the environment, there is even a suspension of activities.


According to the indicators presented by the “Hydrometeorological and Monitoring Center” SNCO of the RA Ministry of Internal Affairs in recent months, the Center, Erebuni and Shengavit are in the worst “positions” in terms of air pollution in Yerevan, Davtashen, Ajapnyak and Arabk are in relatively good condition. As for what percentage of air pollution in Yerevan is due to construction dust, it is not yet possible to say exactly how it is not possible to receive information on air pollution in real time, due to the lack of modern and expensive equipment. Therefore, in order to differentiate the causes of air pollution in Yerevan, to take more concrete steps to eliminate or prevent them, it is necessary to replenish the arsenal of the “Hydro-Air’s Monitoring Center”.


Nevertheless, it can be stated that construction dust is activated and becomes a threat to air pollution at the same time as the construction works and the wind are intensifying. However, legislative and procedural reforms are needed in this area in order to record and eliminate violations more quickly.


Full text in Armenian

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