Moscow has been ranked among top 30 capitals in terms of good air quality, overtaking Paris, Vienna, Berlin

Moscow has been ranked among top 30 capitals in terms of good air quality, overtaking Paris, Vienna, Berlin
Photo by Maxim Denisov, Mos.ru
By level of air pollution, the Russian capital is among the safest megacities in the world.

Moscow has been placed among the top 30 capitals with good air quality, as the 2020 air quality world ranking shows. The rating is based on data of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the atmosphere, collected by ground-based monitoring stations and made available on the online platform IQAir. The 2020 World Air Quality Report includes air quality data from 92 cities.

PM2.5 are particles ranging in size from 0.001 to 2.5 micrometers that are found in the air. This size is much thinner than a human hair, which is 40 to 120 micrometers thick. The main sources of PM2.5 emissions are engines in vehicles (predominantly, diesel), dust, particles from materials found on the roadway (including tires and vehicle parts), power generation plants using coal and fuel oil, certain industries, wildfires. 30 percent of the fine particles measured in the air are carried by wind from out-of-Moscow sources.

When inhaled, the particles penetrate inside the lungs and enter the blood system with harmful health effects. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline level, the lowest risk to humans is the annual mean PM2.5 exposure of below 10 micrograms (one millionth of a gram) per cubic meter.

In 2020, the greatest annual mean concentrations of PM2.5, according to the IQAir report, were observed in cities of East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The highest levels were recorded in Delhi, Dhaka and Ulaanbaatar.

Last year, nearly half of European cities failed to achieve the WHO target for annual PM2.5 exposure. It is to note at the same time that the PM2.5 content in Eastern and Southern Europe is usually higher than in Western and Northern Europe.

In Moscow, the content of suspended particulate matters, according to the IQAir report, in 2020 was 1.5 to 2.6 times lower than in Sofia, Belgrade, Pristina, Kiev, Athens, Warsaw, and 22 percent lower than in Rome, and 11 percent lower than in Paris.

Regular monitoring of the environmental situation in the city is being carried out by the Air Quality Control Center and other organizations.

Information about the air quality in the capital comes from automatic air pollution monitoring stations, weather forecast complexes, as well as from analytical centers and mobile laboratories. They are deployed close to highways, in residential and natural areas, as well as in zones affected by industrial enterprises.

The monitors operate in round the clock mode. This makes it possible to get up-to-date information and track any changes in air pollution. Data from the monitoring stations are available at the Mosecomonitoring website.

Since 2013, the level of suspended particulate matters PM2.5 in the air in Moscow has decreased by 1.5 times. Additionally, in 2010, the concentration of carbon monoxide decreased by 2.7 times, nitrogen dioxide, by 1.3 times, nitrogen oxide, by 2.5 times, sulfur dioxide, by 1.7 times, and PM10 suspended particulate matters, by 1.5 times.

The improvement of air quality was achieved thanks to the measures implemented in Moscow. Among those measures were the creation of a well-developed urban transportation infrastructure, the development of public transport, the greening of the vehicles fleet, the modernization of the fuel and energy sector, the reconstruction of industrial enterprises, the modernization of sewage treatment plants, landscaping and improved sanitation in the city.

Moscow's environmental policy has got recognition at the international level. Recently, the capital has been included for the first time ever in the rating list of category A cities of the authoritative international organization Carbon Disclosure Project. It is shaping a system for public disclosure of information about greenhouse gas emissions from cities, regions, and companies, while assessing their impact on global climate change.

In 2019, Moscow joined the WHO Regions for Health network as a city committed to implement best practices to reduce health risks caused by non-medical factors. It is, in the first place, about measures to improve air quality.

The city's intentions to keep on improving quality of the air are also reflected in the C40 Green and Healthy Streets Declaration (networks of cities in support of collective climate action), signed by the City Government at the International Climate Forum of Cities held in Moscow.