“During one day, a person breathes 18 kg of air, and the Zaporizhians breathe the same amount of polluted air.” The public discussion at Ecoforum 2019 in Zaporizhia called “Air monitoring: how to get data on pollution and protect yourself” began with precisely such scientific facts. The organizers were the three partner organizations Arnika (Czech Republic), Ecoaction (Kiev) and Dziga (Zaporizhia).
The Czech researchers and public activists from Kiev, Kharkov, Dnipro, Zaporozhia and Kryvyi Rih discussed the problem of polluted air and the prospects for the development of a public monitoring network in Ukraine. Jan Hovorka and Jan Bendl (Institute of the Environment, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Charles University in Prague) presented the difference between the Czech state air monitoring system and alternative measurement techniques. In addition to standard mini-stations, similar to Ukrainian stationary posts, Czech scientists use an alternative monitoring tool – a remote-controlled air balloon. The device conducts measurements in space at various sources of pollution. Petr Mareš (SCIENCEIN, Czech Republic) talked about how to communicate data on air pollution with the authorities and in education.
Polluted air causes diseases and premature deaths
Yevgeny Tulushev (Zaporizhia Regional Laboratory Centre, Ministry of Health of Ukraine) shared the results of a study on the effect of air pollution on human health. Andrei Kamenshchik (Department of Pediatrics, Zaporizhia State Medical University), spoke about the relationship between air pollution and the occurrence of congenital heart defects in children in the Zaporizhia region. Since 2007, the number of children with congenital heart defects in this region has doubled.
Activists and developers of monitoring sensors spoke about the the need to develop a public monitoring system. Pavel Tkachenko (SaveDnipro, Dnipro), spoke about the “SaveDnipro” sensors and Ecobot application to monitor the level of air pollution, which receives data from 107 stations in 10 regions of Ukraine. With the help of the Ecobot application, anyone can see the level of pollution on their smartphone. Alexander Kuzmyuk (Dnipro) described how to assemble the sensor independently, and also presented a device for monitoring dust in the air, the “7bit Pollution Monitor”. Alexander Karpenko (Kyiv Smart City, Kyiv) spoke about the initiative to install sensors in Kyiv schools and presented a map of Kyiv, which shows the number of green spaces and buildings and a map of temperatures on city roads.
Environmental justice for industrial cities
Tamara Kharchylava (Ecoaction, Kyiv) reviewed Ukrainian examples of collective lawsuits about the health risks of environmental pollution and the implementation of EU Directives on the protection of atmospheric air in Ukraine. Elena Reshetko (NGO “Ecokid.net”, Kharkiv) shared her seven-year trial experience on compensation for damage to health from air pollution. Lawyer Elena Shafranova (Dosit Truity Krivyi Rih) spoke about her own practices and advice and presented the activities of the coalition in Kryvyi Rih.
During the event, the Czech public organization “Arnika” announced the launch of a mini-grant competition aimed at supporting the activities of local initiatives related to air pollution from industrial sources.