Air pollution at more than double the safe limit in Minsk

Air pollution was more than double the safe limit in a windless Minsk on Tuesday, as roaring wood stoves around the Belarusian capital added to higher levels of particulate matter in the air.

Many residents of the city complained of smelling smoke on Monday and Tuesday, Bahdana Kazyaruk, a departmental head at the National Center of Hydrometeorology, Radioactive Contamination Control and Environmental Monitoring (Hidramet), told BelaPAN.

The increased use of wood as stove fuel in villages around Minsk amid a spell of very cold weather and industrial emissions have been the two major factors behind the too high pollution levels, she said.

In addition, the expert said, harmful substances have built up near the ground because of a weather phenomenon called temperature inversions, in which cold air is trapped near the ground and smoke cannot rise.

Hidramet has already warned industrial and transport companies against exceeding pollution limits, according to Ms. Kazyaruk.

Air pollution in the city is expected to drop to normal levels by Thursday evening, when windier weather helps disperse smoke, said the expert.