Expatica news

Smog alert still in effect

A smog alert has been in effect since early Monday morning all over Belgium due to the high concentration of fine particles in the air.

Smog measures have been taken which include a speed limit on a number of motorways in Belgium and the ring roads. However, the experts have their doubts about the efficacy of speed reduction to combat the problem.

Far more efficient is a soot filter for diesel cars, they say.

From 2009 a soot filter will be obligatory. In neighbouring Germany and the Netherlands, the government is already giving bonuses of €600 to owners who install soot filters. In Belgium the bonus is much lower.

The speed limit of 90 km/hour is still in effect on the major motorways and ring roads.  In Brussels extra speed controls are being carried out. From next winter during days of pollution peaks the Brussels Region wants to implement driving limitations and make public transport free of charge on those days.

Some results

The alarm threshold is 70 micrograms of fine particles/cubic metre. In the majority of registration points over the last couple of days, too high concentrations of fine particles have been measured.

Concentrations of 400 micrograms of fine particles/cubic metre were measured in Roeselaere (West Flanders) – and 500 micrograms in places in Antwerp. This is seven times the threshold.

Nitrogen dioxide is also far above the threshold

The concentrations of nitrogen dioxide are also considerbaly above the norm.

"We have not had measurements like this in 15 years," says Frans Fierens of the IRCEL (Interregional Environment Department).

Still, the highest measurements have not exceeded the European threshold of 400 micrograms. The threshold in Belgium is much lower.