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Air Pollution

airquali-graf-1.jpg Air pollution is a broad term applied to any agent (chemical, physical, biological or other) that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere and has an effect in man or the environment. Worldwide air pollution is influencing the quality of life, while in addition is accounted responsible for deaths and various respiratory diseases. Setting of air pollution levels, to regulate air quality, as is the case of related EU regulations, has contributed to levering the negative impacts of air pollution by improving air quality.

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From the end of the 19th century, and especially in the first half of the 20th century, the air pollution problem in the developed countries was characterized by high concentration levels of smoke and sulphur dioxide caused by the combustion of sulphur-containing fossil fuels such as coal for domestic and industrial purpose.


In the second half of the 20th century, traffic related emissions became an increasing threat to clean air, accompanied by emissions related to the industrial sector. As the majority of the European population lives in cities and the number of circulating cars has increased rapidly, the car has become a major player in urban air quality management problems.


Motor vehicles emit a variety of pollutants into the atmosphere, such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM). Despite significant improvements in fuel and engine technology, traffic related air pollution problems are an increasing problem worldwide.


In addition, a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight leads to the formation of ozone. This is a secondary pollutant that has the “tendency” to travel, thus high levels of ozone are often observed in rural areas, away from urban centres.


Air pollution concentration values in the cities in Cyprus regularly exceed the relevant limits set by the new European Union regulations. The main compounds that cause air pollution problems in Cyprus are:


  • Dust (as a form of  a pollutant category called Particulate Matter, PM)
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx), i.e. nitrogen monoxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) 
  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • Benzene (C6H6)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Ozone (O3)

The sources for these compounds are different. Power plants and other industry is the dominating source for Nitrogen oxides and Sulphur dioxide, but traffic also contributes substantially to the production of Nitrogen oxides and dust particles. Benzene is a typical traffic related pollutant, together with Carbon monoxide. In addition to these compounds, ground level ozone is a problem in Cyprus, especially in high, elevated areas like the Troodos Mountains. The sources here are mostly long ranged transboundary pollution from other countries. More detailed facts about all of these compounds can be found on the subsequent pages.


The highest concentration values are usually occurring as the concequence of emissions at ground level and meteorological and topographic conditions that support air pollution accumulation and low dilution-dispersion.


Air pollution concentration in the cities in Cyprus is regularly exceeding the limits set by the new EU regulations for air quality. More information about the EU regulations can be found here.