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The best air

  1. Modrava - Ranks among the least dusty locations where the cleanest air can be found in general
  2. Pec pod Sněžkou - There is very low concentration of airborne dust in its surroundings, which has cancerogenic properties, damages the respiratory and circulation system
  3. Lázně Kynžvart - This is an island with the least concentration of airborne dust in northwestern Bohemia
  4. Deštné v Orlických horách - Very little dust from transportation and industry can be found in the middle of the surrounding hills
  5. Dobruška - Is located in the centre of a region where the lowest ozone concentrations are found, which damages the respiratory system and impairs immunity

The worst air

  1. Ostrava – Radvanice - This is probably the locality with the worst air in the Czech Republic; the highest quantities of dust and other harmful substances are found here
  2. Praha – Legerova Street - The whole capital is dusty; however, the worst situation can be found near the trunk road; the worst air quality has been measured in Legerova Street on the long-term basis where the price of flats has been even decreasing due to poor air quality
  3. Karviná - The worst concentration of dust and also benzene, which is cancerogenic and causes haematopoiesis, is found here
  4. Kladno - Besides Ostrava, very high concentration of benzo(a)pyrene can be found precisely here, which has cancerogenic effects
  5. Brno - The city is found in a relatively clean region; however, excessive amounts of dust, benzo(a)pyrene and ozone are found in its streets

MAP OF (UN)CLEAN AIR MF DNES suggested five cleanest and five dirtiest localities in the Czech Republic. Maps of the environmental report currently being elaborated by Minister Bursík were used as the resource. Breathing seems to be easiest in Modrava, Bohemian Forest or Pec pod Sněžkou; on the contrary, the dirtiest air can be encountered in Ostrava, Praha, Brno.

Where living is possible and where breathing is difficult

Ostrava – Just leave for a holiday and your eczema is gone. When you return, it is back again. “That is precisely what happened to my older son. In July, he spent almost one month at the health resort in Jeseník and his eczema disappeared. Two weeks after coming home it was back again,” describes Sylva Hlinková of Ostrava. She and her family live in the metropolitan district Radvanice. A locality where breathing is even more difficult can be found only with difficulty in the Czech Republic.

In spite of that, the air was somewhat cleaner last year compared to the year before. Could this mean a turning point for the better? Yes, but only in the short term probably.

It follows from the environmental report to be submitted to the government soon by Minister Martin Bursík that the air in the Czech Republic was better last year than the year before. The quantity of airborne dust as well as of other harmful materials decreased.

Czech Republic is choked by coal and old cars

However, the report whose working version is available to MF DNES already holds back optimists – the time of rapid improvement of air in the Czech Republic is gone. The quantity of discharged harmful materials namely does not show any marked decline. They were only spread more quickly by the wind.

“We have been successful in cleaning water; however, air shows not much of an improvement. It is true that the situation did slightly improve in cities but only thanks to more frequent and stronger wind, which posed other threats to health, however,” says Jakub Kašpar, spokesman of the Ministry of the Environment.

Based on prognoses, air cleaning will not proceed as quickly as in the 90ies when “lightening” of the industry was seen. Today, problems are represented by households where coal or even waste is used for heating, as well as the rising number of cars. “Average age of cars on Czech roads approaches 15 years. This is a European rarity and of course, this fact is reflected in the combustion products,” explains Jakub Kašpar.

Airborne dust is one of the most dangerous substances whose harmless-sounding name is deceitful. It irritates breathing pathways, is harmful for the heart, blood vessels, and reduces fertility. And it spreads other harmful compounds in the surroundings including cancerogenic materials.

And health risks are much more serious than only unpleasant coughing. “My patients suffer from breathing pathways diseases more, the number of allergic and asthmatic persons is rising. The situation is the worst precisely in the autumn,” says Zdeňka Prusková, general practitioner in Ostrava, probably the most contaminated city in the Czech Republic.

“There have been quiet rumours for a long time that children’s diseases were caused by the poor environment; however, this fact was officially admitted in recent years only. I kept wondering why our children show double sickness rate than in the rest of the country,” adds another physician of Ostrava, Eva Schallerová.

She registers more frequent cases of pneumonia and immunity disorders. “Smog also leads to weakened ears and nose in the children,” she adds. There are almost five times more little asthmatics in her records than the average number in the whole Czech Republic. From the long-term point of view, dust may also have its share in cancer incidence.

Last year, 16 percent of Czechs were struggling with dust exceeding health limits. Authors of the report estimate that 2.4 percent more people than the year before died due to dust.

Treatment of Ostrava children or their peers from nearby Karviná region can be provided by as little as leaving for a school stay in nature, for example, in the Bohemian Forest. They can count on having a rest from dust near the community of Modrava, noted for clean air. The healthy zone extends also around the nearby community of Kvilda and close along the border.

Based on the environmental report, MF DNES suggested five clean and five dirty locations in the Czech Republic. Maps that show concentration of harmful substances were used as a resource.

It can be seen from the list that Ostrava citizens must travel 450 kilometres to breathe clean air. Krkonoše Mountains are less distant by half compared to the Bohemian Forest. There is about as much dust in the surroundings of Pec pod Sněžkou as in one street of Ostrava.

As for eastern Bohemia, the area of Dobruška scored – it is a bright island on the map of ozone incidence, which irritates the respiratory system.

Asthma threatens Prague citizens, as well

School children from Ostrava and Karviná should definitely forget spending their holidays in the capital. Prague citizens are namely not in a much better situation with their air. Those living near the trunk road, especially in busy Legerova Street, could exchange long stories about choking cough with Radvanice inhabitants.

Prague’s transportation supplies the air with carbon dioxide. “Reduction of pulmonary functions, increased incidence of respiratory diseases, increased incidence of asthmatic difficulties and allergies, both in children and adults, can be expected in citizens of the Prague agglomeration,” says the environmental report.

Although southern Moravia is otherwise quite clean, the centre of Brno found its place in the list, as well – the large city shines on the map of harmful compounds as a dirty lighthouse in the otherwise relatively clean ocean.

PETR SUCHOMEL
With contributions of Markéta Radová and Lenka Veselá

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