Why is Dirty Air a Problem in Sofia?

Another story from the COVID-19 Other Front Line initiative:

From E.H.

With the onset of the winter season, many people look forward to the peculiar smell of cold mixed with fluffy snow that makes them exclaim, “it smells of winter!”. But unfortunately, for years all people living in Sofia increasingly feel is the unpleasant and heavy smell of coal smoke, burned waste materials, plastic, old shoes… when the cold weather starts in November. This smell of “winter” or “cold” is especially common in the Roma neighborhoods. But does the dirty air we breathe come only from the Roma neighborhoods?

Bulgaria became the first EU member state to be convicted by the EU for non-compliance with the norms for levels of fine dust particles in the air in the period from 2010 to 2014. Bulgaria is ahead of countries with significant heavy industry, which pollutes the air far more than local household heating.

The topic has not been much commented on over the years, but recently it’s picking up in the media and public discussions.  

It’s also clear that dirty air is not just caused by households. The state also has a leading role in the fact that we breathe dirty air, as there is data that shows that waste from other European countries is burned in Bulgaria. This might be the reason for not publicly commenting on the topic of dirty air in the country.

All of us citizens close our eyes to some basic issues that we all know make the air dirtier.

The main sources of local pollution are household heating and old cars that are driven in Bulgaria.

The combustion of solid heating fuel, especially the use of bad quality coal, significantly pollutes due to the content of ash and sulfur.

Another major problem in Bulgaria is driving old cars. The newer cars that are 10-years-old are a bit more eco-friendly, but most cars in Bulgaria are still much older – about 20 years. Apart from the old cars, another problem is the lack of green eco-friendly buses in the country.

Learn more about the COVID-19 Other Front Line initiative HERE.