Air pollution discussed by the Parliamentary Committee

The implementation of the governmental program for improving air quality needs to be accelerated. At the meeting of the Committee on Sustainable Development, regardless of party affiliation, the MPs agreed on this. The discussion of the topic by the Committee has been initiated by the Clean Air Action Group.

At the meeting, the president of the Clean Air Action Group and the head of the Environmental Advisory Office said that complaints from the residents about air pollution are arriving daily. András Lukács and Péter Lenkei explained that most of the inquiries are linked to the illegal burning of plastic and other waste, as well as lignite heating. They quoted the letter of the medical director of the health center Mátrai Gyógyintézet saying that "the sulfur content of the Mátra lignite is very high (according to some measurements up to 7%), forming sulfuric acid and sulphurous acid when it burns. These gases wither and damage the mucosal lining of the lungs or the respiratory system, cause asthma attacks, and worsen the condition of the high incidence COPD patients. In several towns air pollution is so bad after 5pm that one can not go outdoors; the pungent smell of sulfur is seeping into almost everything."

In addition, a residential complaint which arrived only a few days ago was quoted, emphasizing that such queries arrive in large numbers: "several houses in our village are heated by burning the plastic tubes used in agricultural irrigation systems. No matter which official bodies are addressed, no one does anything. My question would be towards whom should the residents of the neighborhood turn to? When more than two buildings are heated it becomes impossible to breathe the air on the street when passing by. The municipality is not taking any actions."

The Clean Air Action Group worked out detailed suggestions years ago to reduce the pollution caused by household heating. Some of these had been presented at the meeting of the Committee: selling lignite and wet wood for the public should be banned, burning dry leaves should be prohibited throughout the country and small combustion heating systems should be regulated more strictly. In addition, at least one billion forints should be allocated for public information campaigns, instead of the current sum of 10 million, as one of the main reasons of the pollution is the lack of public awareness.

translated by: Bálint Halász