Air pollution usually originates from three main sources: emissions from industry and power generation, local sources (households), and transport. In Ostrava’s case, a fourth major factor is cross-border pollution from the nearby industrial conurbation of Katowice (Poland).
In view of the seriousness of this issue, air quality is naturally a key priority for the City (both in terms of its legal powers in this area as set out in the Air Protection Act, and also via various other activities and initiatives). An analytical study has shown that the main sources of air pollution in Ostrava are stationary sources (metallurgical production and power generation), household sources, and transport. However, under current legislation, powers to restrict emissions from large stationary sources are primarily held by national-level state authorities rather than regional/local bodies. The City’s activities in this regard are thus largely limited to two of the above-mentioned sources:transport and local heating sources (the latter are especially relevant in outlying parts of the city). Although the City’s powers with regard to the other two main sources of air pollution are limited, it naturally attempts to influence the situation here as far as it is able (initiatives, official discussions, political influencing).
The situation in Ostrava is exacerbated by local climatic/meteorological conditions – specifically the occurrence of relatively long periods without wind, leading to protracted inversions in the winter months, which increase concentrations of pollutants regardless of any drop in emissions. As a result, Ostrava experiences fluctuations in mean annual concentrations from year to year, regardless of the overall decrease of emissions in the region. The source of pollutants also differs between winter and summer months. In the winter, household heating is a major source, and under certain meteorological conditions also cross-border pollution (in some locations, household heating emissions from Poland can account for up to 50% of total PM10 concentrations). In the summer, transport is the main source (except in locations with industrial sources).
Air Silesia Project
The issue of cross-border air pollution has been addressed in depth by the project ‘Air Silesia’; the project is unique in terms of the scope of information analyzed and because it evaluates data from both sides of the border using the same methodology. More information here.