High Pollution Rates on New Year's Eve Skip to content
Photo: Golli.

High Pollution Rates on New Year’s Eve

The measured dust pollution in Kópavogur was far above EU guidelines, and may have been the highest dust pollution ever measured in Europe, RÚV reports. A public health specialist suggests that the town of Kópavogur find a new place for the annual New Year’s Eve bonfire and the following firework show, as the pollution measured in the Dalsmári area was dangerous. According to a memo presented in a town council meeting recently, the hourly rate of dust pollution (which are bigger than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) and can be found in people’s blood circulation.

The memo presented research by University of Iceland professors Hrund Ólöf Andradóttir and Þröstur Þorsteinsson. Hrund has previously spoken of the dangers of New Year’s Eve fireworks, comparing the air pollution on that day to the pollution after a natural disaster. The duo’s research finds that the average over a 24-hour span for dust particles, larger than 10 micrometers in diameter, were 394 micrograms per cubic meter. For comparison, European Union guidelines state that individuals should endure no more than 50 micrometers over a 24-hour span.

Possibly highest pollution rates in Europe

The highest measured dust particle pollution rate over one hour was measured at 4000 micrograms per cubic meter. This is the highest pollution rate ever measured in the capital area. Furthermore, the part of the dust pollution in one hour that was under 2.5 micrometers was around 75%, and came in at 3000 micrograms per cubic meter. This is possibly the highest dust pollution rate ever measured in Europe. Hrund and Þröstur compared it to statistics in Europe between 2000 and 2015. It is rare that the hourly rate for smaller dust particle pollution are measured at more than 800 micrograms per cubic meter. The smaller the dust particles, the more likely they are to enter the blood circulation and adversely affect an individual’s health.

The memo states that the pollution rates were high throughout New Year’s Day and kept many residents from enjoying outdoor activities. Icelandic authorities are encouraged to reassess matters regarding fireworks, as well as reassessing the “validity of the tradition that firework sales are the most important fundraising method for the Icelandic search and rescue teams”.

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