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Czech Experts Are Trying to Find out How Much Air Pollution Threatens Inhabitants of Kazakhstan

TEMIRTAU (Kazakhstan) - 13 February 2014

Passive air samplers for determination of toxic substance presence in the air. Photos: Marina Funtikova, Irina Kolchina/EcoMuseum Karaganda

Looking like UFOs, they are passive air samplers for determination of toxic substance presence in the air. This may be a brief description of apparatuses that will be installed to chosen places in the Temirtau area in Kazakhstan by Arnika's Experts, in cooperation with colleagues from a local organisation EcoMuzeum. The samplers, resembling two connected stainless steel dishes, will be hanging on balconies of residential houses in this industrial city for several weeks, and a filter placed between them will be collecting pollutants. The inhabitants of Temirtau suffer, in particular, by operation of a metallurgical plant Mittal Steel, similarly as people in the Czech city Ostrava.

Petrlik instaluje adsorpcni filtr„Passive air sampling is a sampling method when pollution is bound to an adsorbent material in the space between stainless steel hemispheres, through which air is flowing naturally. It is one of the simplest methods of air sampling, requiring the minimum service. However, after laboratory analyses, it provides valuable information on specific air pollutants. In the Czech Republic, this method has been used, for example, in seven selected localities in the city Liberec, and in many other cases." - This is the sampling principle, explained by the head of the Toxics and Waste Programme, RNDr. Jindřich Petrlík from the Arnika Association.

Petrlik a Skalsky kompletuji pasivni vzorkovacOne of the samplers was installed on a family house, the second one on a balcony of a prefabricated house and the third one on an elementary school building. All these buildings have a similar characteristic - view of the Arcellor Mittal steel plant. Smoke comprising chemical cocktail billows from its chimneys to the city continuously.

Skalsky uchycuje vzorkovaci zarizeni nedaleko MittaluIn the period of winter temperature inversions, people practically cannot ventilate their flats, and thick layers of fine dust from the steel plant chimneys deposit on snow, but, for example, also on balconies. „With some, unfortunately sad, hyperbole, it could be said that snow in Temirtau is black, as we used to see in Ostrava in the past," adds Skalský.

The Arnika Association took soil samplers on several children playgrounds in Temirtau in the summer already, in the course of the expedition Toxics Free Kazakhstan 2013. Also their analyses are taking place at present, to determine the contents of substances that could endanger human health.

The Arnika Association works in Kazakhstan, thanks to a support from the EU Aid programme, on a project entitled „Empowering the civil society in Kazakhstan in improvement of chemical safety ".