Air pollution in Vilnius

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Vilnius is one of the cities that has a lot of greenery. We have many beautiful parks, green areas and in good weather our city is really fun to walk around.

You might think we don’t have air pollution problems. Not true! We come across such problems more and more……

The increase in air pollution in Vilnius is related to the weather. We feel an increase in air pollution when dry, windless weather settles in. In winter – when the cold arctic air masses arrive, it gets very cold and the skies become clear. Power stations are working at full capacity, and people are heating their homes and there is a lot of traffic on the streets. Clouds of combustible material residues are formed. Sulfur and nitrogen oxide gases, soot, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide contained in them are very poisonous and pose a danger to human health.

From the point of view of environmentalists, the most environmentally friendly in terms of air pollution are heat pumps that use electricity, geothermal heating, and gas boilers that use natural or liquefied gas are also low-polluting. However, today the most popular and cheapest are solid fuel boilers, which, depending on the type of boiler, can be fired with wood waste briquettes, pellets, firewood or even coal and peat briquettes. We can recognize houses that are heated using low-quality fuel by the color of the smoke coming from the chimneys.

Black or dark smoke emitting a pungent smell is a sign of low-quality and unsuitable fuel.

Carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by burning wood is a participant in the natural carbon cycle, so it does not contribute to the increase of the greenhouse effect. An important negative aspect is that when solid fuel is burned in households, about 80 percent of all pollutants emitted in Lithuania that are most dangerous to human health – chlorinated dioxins and furans – and 98 percent of benz(a)pyrene, a substance linked to cancer. People with respiratory and heart diseases are also at great risk.

Another time when we suffer from air pollution is late spring and summer. At that time, hot and dry weather can prevail in Vilnius for a long time. A cloud of poisonous gas – smog – is formed. How do we recognize smog? Above the city‘s old town is hanging a dark cloud similar to a cloud of rain.

Why does smog in Vilnius mostly form above the old town? The explanation is simple. The Old Town of Vilnius is located by the Neris river, geographically lower than other areas of the city. Smog forms in low, low-wind areas.

Smog substances are also dangerous to human health. Dust and pollen pose a great danger to people with allergies. Ozone, carbon dioxide and monoxide gases, nitrogen and sulfur oxides are especially dangerous for young children, the elderly, people with heart and respiratory diseases.

How is air pollution reduced in Vilnius?

  • Vilnius residents and guests are encouraged to travel in the city by public transport.
  • New and restored pedestrian and bicycle paths are being built.
  • Employees of the education system, medical workers and social workers travel free of charge on public transport.
  • There is paid parking.
  • Convenient public transport schedules and routes.
  • The green areas of Vilnius are nurtured and expanded: parks, squares, courtyards, alleys and streets.

Memo for a city dweller

  • We offer a reminder to help you protect yourself from air pollution in a big city. It will be useful not only when staying in Vilnius, but also when visiting or living in all big cities.
  • Watch the weather forecast, they always report air pollution. When pollution increases, try to plan your activities so that you are as little as possible in the epicenter of pollution.
  • Try to spend your free time in nature, where the air is clean.
  • When the pollution increases, do not use air conditioners, do not open the windows, because in this way poisonous gases will enter the house.
  • Wear a respirator, it will trap toxic substances. If you don’t have one, you can cover your nose with a wet tissue.
  • If you feel the symptoms of poisoning (nausea, dizziness, headache, heart problems) – do not delay, but consult a doctor.
  • The most important thing: do not litter, do not burn garbage and unsafe fuel.

Big things always start with one small person