Control over all parameters: changes of Moscow environmental indicators

June 12

Can citizens influence the state of the air, how the environmental friendliness and energy efficiency of urban facilities enhancement improve the environmental situation, and why Moscow choose electric buses About this and much more Polina Zakharova, Director of Mosekomonitoring, told

For 20 years, the specialists of the environmental institution have been monitoring the urban environment. As a result, Moscow is now among the top 30 capitals in terms of air quality, ahead of Paris, Vienna and Berlin.

Accurate data and strict control

- How environmental observations changed in recent years?

- The fundamental changes have taken place. We started with several automatic air pollution control stations in the Moscow Central District. Now it is a developed network that covers all natural environments - air, water, soil, and others.

Polina Zakharova, Director of Mosekomonitoring

It is the last 10 years that have allowed us to make a quantum leap. 25 new air pollution monitoring stations were created. The old stations were modernized and re-equipped. The number of measuring instruments increased from 250 to more than 600. The monitoring system in TiNAO (Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative districts) was created from scratch. It is based on the same principles as throughout Moscow: it uses modern equipment, scientific methods, and an evidence-based approach to the selection of sites for observation.

In 2012, mobile air pollution monitoring stations were introduced. They are required if there is a suspicion that environmental legislation is being violated in a particular territory. You can track the indicators, identify the violation and bring the culprit to justice.

Photo by Maxim Denisov,

We have three new mobile air pollution monitoring laboratories. There is a round-the-clock ecological monitoring service: in real time, a mobile laboratory can be sent to the address of a resident in order to carry out the necessary measurements on site. The acoustic service has significantly expanded - it responds to requests from residents related to the noise level. Most often, these specialists are addressed at night.

In addition, Moscow has established its own geological survey and a system for monitoring the bottom and shores of water protection zones. The Mosekomonitoring analytical laboratory has been also equipped with new equipment. Thanks to this, the range of substances that we monitor has increased. Now we get four times more data, although the laboratory staff has not grown.

- The environmental situation in Moscow today What the instruments say?

- I can say with confidence that the state of the natural environment in Moscow generally meets all the established standards. Over the past 10 years, Moscow has come a long way in solving environmental problems. If we are talking about atmospheric air, the content of individual pollutants decreased by 1.3–2.7 times. This is a very good result. The content of carbon monoxide decreased by 2.3 times, nitrogen oxide - by 2.2 times, fine suspended particles - by 1.4 times, nitrogen dioxide - by 1.3 times, sulfur dioxide -by 1.7 times. The concentration of some substances, such as carbon monoxide, is minimal, next lower order of magnitude than the maximum permissible values.

Positive dynamics is also observed in the state of water bodies. The water in the Moskva River - the main artery of the capital - has become 1.5 times cleaner in 10 years.

Photo by Maxim Denisov,

Of course, there are cases when enterprises violate environmental legislation. This is being dealt with within the framework of state environmental supervision, and there are systems for identifying and bringing culprits to justice. If we talk about the atmospheric air, there are some days when its condition is strongly influenced by weather conditions. But in general, the air, soil and water meet all environmental standards.

Cumulative effect

- How we managed to reduce the number of pollutants?

- These achievements are the result of the implementation of many city programs. Emissions continue to decline despite the fact that the city is being built and developed. The environment was effected by the reform of the industrial complex, the modernization of the heat and power industry and enterprises, the implementation of energy saving system, the greening of the transport system and the municipal complex.

The capital's production facilities are becoming not only innovative, but also more environmentally friendly. New treatment systems in industrial plants are able to absorb more harmful substances and, therefore, pollute the air less. The enterprises of the Moscow energy complex have introduced combined-cycle power plant and are taking measures to save energy. And thus, the emissions reduced.

The most important factor in improving air quality is a new transport policy of Moscow. The fewer cars are stuck in traffic, the less emissions into the atmosphere takes place. It is important to develop public transport, especially off-street, electrified: metro, Moscow Central Diameters, Moscow Central Circle. Citizens refuse cars, therefore, traffic and emissions are reduced.

Photo by Yevgeny Samarin,

Gradually, the city is switching to the use of electric buses. The refusal of diesel fuel is an important environmental measure and compliance with all global trends. At the moment, Moscow is the number one city in Europe on using electric buses. According to expert estimates, the replacement of one Euro-4 class diesel bus with an electric bus leads to a reduction in emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere by 260.5 kilograms per year, and one Euro-5 class bus - by 189 kilograms per year. The traffic of non-ecological types of cargo transport in the city is restricted. In addition, in 2016, Moscow was the first city in the country that switched to the use of Euro-5 eco-class motor fuel.

There is an environmental effect even from the creation and subsequent care of lawns - they retain dust that is carried by the wind, and reduce the intake of small suspended particles PM10 into the air. Сitywide, all measures together have a great effect.

- What most of all influences the Moscow environment?

- It's not a simple question. According to statistics, about 90 percent of emissions are associated with transport, 10 percent - with industrial enterprises. But everything is not cut and dried. Emissions from motor vehicles are the so-called low sources, they are localized near highways. And emissions from enterprises are the high hot sources; their distribution area is much wider. For each territory, the indicators should be evaluated separately. But I must say that the gross emissions for 10 years in the city as a whole decreased by 2.6 times. This is a very good result. Our air pollution monitoring stations record a constant performance improvement.

Photo by Yulia Ivanko,

Eco-friendliness as a way of life

- Eco-friendliness has become a fashion trend. How Muscovites are interested in environmental issues?

- Residents of Moscow are interested in the environment; follow the readings of our stations. From the point of view of the World Health Organization, this is one of the mechanisms of influence on reducing the risk of disease - people know about the state of the air, choose routes, places to walk.

You can check the Moscow environmental indicators in real time on our website

- Can Muscovites influence the environmental situation?

- Today there is a catchphrase as ‘responsible consumption’ - it is very true. This is when people prefer public transport rather than personal transport, sort waste, and choose equipment with a high class of energy efficiency. All this reduces emissions. And we have to do our part to make them less.


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