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    Air quality: EU quarter twice as polluted as pedestrian zone

    Aerial view of traffic on Rue de la Loi, in the European quarter. Credit: Orlando Frooninckx/Wikimedia Commons

    A person in Brussels’ pedestrian zone is breathing air up to two times cleaner than a person walking down one of the city’s most traffic-heavy roads in the heart of the EU quarter, air quality monitors showed.

    For the upcoming Brussels Mobility Week, stations showing real-time data on air quality levels were set up in different areas of the city: Place De Brouckère, in the city’s pedestrian zone, and in the Arts-Loi metro station, in the European quarter’s Rue de la Loi.

    At around 10:00 AM, the monitor in the pedestrian zone showed that concentrations of nitrogen oxides, common air pollutants which can cause serious respiratory issues, were 10 to 20% lower than those registered at Arts-Loi.

    Olivier Brasseur, who leads Bruxelles Environnement’s air quality lab, said that while the difference registered at that time was “relatively small,” it was expected to rise throughout the day, according to RTBF.

    “The gap will grow in the middle of the day and, in the afternoon, we will notice a difference of about 50 to 60% in [air pollutant] concentrations,” he told the outlet.

    The monitoring will remain in place until 22 September, showing passers-by real-time data about the quality of the air they breathe.

    Referring to nitrogen oxides, Brasseur said that it was a “problematic pollutant,” which could harm the respiratory system and particularly impact asthmatic people or children.

    In 2018, 632 premature deaths in Brussels were attributed to poor air quality, with a recent study showing that even short-term exposure to it could result in hiked mortality rates.

    Air quality monitors in Brussels regularly show that the levels of air pollutants in the city are above the maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organisation.

    Additional measuring stations were also set up in other areas of Brussels, with the station in the southern municipality of Uccle displaying the lowest concentrations of air pollutants.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times