02-04-2024

NPHC Tips for High Pollution Days

As reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), due to the transport of dust from the Sahara Desert, elevated levels of PM10 air pollution are observed in the country since 31 March. On 31 March, the PM10 daily limit value was exceeded by 1–1.3 times in Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Šiauliai, Jonava, and on 1 April – by 1.5–2.7 times at all air quality monitoring stations. This morning, air quality remains poor throughout Lithuania: high and very high PM10 concentrations are recorded not only in cities but also in rural areas.

Track real-time air quality at http://193.219.53.11/ap3/ (data updated hourly).

Effects of particulate matter on Human Health

Particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of particles and liquid droplets in the air which can be made of various components such as acids, sulphates, nitrates, organic compounds, metals, soil particles, dust, soot, etc. PM can also include biological components: allergens, microorganisms. Sahara dust is a type of solid particles originating from the Sahara Desert in North Africa. 48% of desert dust particles have an aerodynamic diameter close to 10 µm. Dominant components include SiO2 (59.99%), Al2O3 (14.13%), Fe2O3 (6.85%), CaO (3.94%), MgO (2.60%), and K2O (2.35%) - quartz, magnetite/hematite, carbonates.

Larger particles (PM10) typically affect the upper respiratory tract of humans, reaching the bronchi, causing coughing and sneezing. Individuals with asthma, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, the elderly, infants, children, and pregnant women are classified as the population at risk (sensitive group), most affected by increased environmental air pollution, so they should take more precautions.

"The most common symptoms may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, shortness of breath, coughing, weakened lung function (especially in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), increased susceptibility of the respiratory tract to infections (especially in children), respiratory tract exacerbation induced by allergen," - explains Irena Taraškevičienė, Head of the Public Health Safety Unit at the National Public Health Centre.

Tips for High Pollution Days

  • Stay indoors if you have chronic illnesses and monitor your condition
  • Spend less time outdoors or choose locations for walks that are further away from busy streets and heated homes; postpone outdoor work and outdoor recreational activities (e.g., sports) 
  • If you work in polluted areas, wear respiratory protective equipment (masks, respirators)
  • If you feel unwell, seek medical attention

Each of us can contribute to reducing air pollution

  • Choose public transport more often or carpool with colleagues and friends
  • Use right fuel for solid fuel boilers (dry wood and its products)
  • Do not burn waste