High concentrations of fine particles recorded in Belgium

High concentrations of fine particles recorded in Belgium

More than 50 micrograms per cubic metres of fine particles have been in the air in Brussels since the weekend, but they'll blow over by the end of Monday. Since Sunday, the map of Brussels has turned bright red on the website of the Intergewestelijk Cel voor het Leefmilieu (Belgian Interregional Environment Agency - IRCEL), which means the amount of fine dust particles in the air has exceeded the safety threshold. The agency is a collaboration between the Brussels, Flanders and Walloon regions and measures the air quality in Belgium. The threshold of 50 micrograms of fine particles per cubic metres (g/m³) was exceeded, which is when the population has to be informed.

High concentrations of fine particles (PM10) are measured especially in the northeast of Brussels, going up to 50 micrograms. PM10s are 10 micrometres in size and considered to be the most damaging to health. These micro-dust particles can enter the lungs, and increase the risk of cancer, asthma, allergies and respiratory or cardiovascular disease.

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The even smaller particles (PM2,5) are high above the threshold as well. This was the case in the whole country, but in Flanders (-8) and Brussels (-7), the concentrations were even higher than in Wallonia (-5).

"The cause is a combination of nitrogen oxides (which come mostly from traffic) and ammonia (from agriculture). Together they create secondary fine particles," IRCEL reports. People who are very sensitive to air pollution shouldn't do unusual physical activity.

The smog will blow over on Monday and the air quality over the whole country will improve, except for in Flanders where it is still only 'moderate'. According to the forecast for Tuesday, the whole country will be in the green zone again.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times 

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