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Bulgarian air most polluted in Europe

Sofia — The air in Bulgaria is the most polluted in the whole of the European Union, the ministry of environment and water found in a new report published Friday.

With dust levels persistently around 55 microgrammes per cubic metre — compared with an average of 30 mg in the rest of Europe and the maximum norm of 40 mg — Bulgarian air ranks as the most polluted in the EU, the report said.

It blamed the high level of pollution on the large number of old vehicles in Bulgaria without catalytic converters and the lack of restrictions imposed on second-hand cars imported from Western Europe.

In addition, central heating and gas heating is used primarily in big cities, while smaller towns and villages still rely on coal-fired heating.

The western town of Pernik, home to a number of metallurgy plants, is Bulgaria’s most polluted town, according to the report, with an average dust concentration of 92 microgrammes per cubic metre.

In Plovdiv, the country’s second-largest city, air dust levels stood at 70.9 mg.

In the capital Sofia, home to one of every four Bulgarians, dust levels ranged from 55 to 62 mg.

According to a new environment protection strategy, Bulgaria hopes to bring down dust, particle and carbon dioxide levels in the air by imposing EU standards on vehicles and industry.