It’s the worst case of smog in recent memory. From east to west, the Czech Republic has been under a cloud for the last several days. As up to four times the permissible limit of pollution is being registered in various parts of the country, children and the elderly have been advised to stay indoors and factories have been forced to restrict their production. The city of Plzeň has even experienced the rare phenomenon of “industrial snow”. We spoke with Josef Keder of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, who told Radio Prague first of all where the problems were worst at the moment.
“The industrial region of Ostrava, in the north-east of the Czech Republic belongs among the worst, the others are in north-west Bohemia in the region of Ústí nad Labem, the capital Prague, and also the city of Brno.”
How does this situation rank historically among other cases of smog, in terms of the duration and the range?
“What is a bit uncommon is that this situation has occurred during November, because November is usually a “well ventilated” month. The thing is that this situation has lasted for so long. Usually such situations are only a week or so in duration.”
There are protests against drivers taking place today; to what extent do people contribute to the smog on their own by driving when it is not necessary?
“The drivers have been asked to limit their journeys, but I’m afraid they haven’t responded to this and are using their cars as they do on other days.”
But are the cars really a major factor in prolonging the smog, or is it primarily other forms of pollution?
“In Prague it’s the cars and the city transport that are the main sources of air pollution, in other regions domestic heating and industrial sources contribute.”
We’ve read that the elderly and children should limit their time outside, as much as possible; what kind of danger does the smog actually pose to those groups?
“The dangers are for sensitive groups of people, as you said, elderly and small children and also people with obstructive diseases, like asthma or bronchitis.”
How do you see the forecast for the next week?
“The forecast is very bad. Our colleagues from the forecasting department predict that this situation will last until the end of this week at least.”