Graz fine dust woes continue

There have been more fine dust particles in the air than allowed in the Styrian city of Graz on nearly 50 days so far this year, figures presented today (Weds) showed.The Austrian Traffic Club (VCÖ) informed that federal fine dust limits were surpassed on 46 days in the provincial capital so far in 2011. Austrian regulations mean that the amount of fine dust particles must not be higher than 40 micrograms per cubic metre. The law allows regions just 25 breaches of the standard per year.Graz, Vienna, Linz and other cities registered dozens of days on which safe levels of fine dust were surpassed in the past few years.The VCÖ appealed to political decision-makers in Graz to get a city road toll rule underway as soon as possible to slash fine dust figures. The pressure group pointed out that the Styrian government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) had agreed on such a measure in 2010. The provincial coalition, however, postponed the introduction of such a law after Freedom Party (FPÖ) official Gerhard Kurzmann took over the traffic issues department following his party’s strong performance in last September’s provincial parliament ballot.Kurzmann recently said, he planned to present a set of measures in May. Reports have it that the initiative will focus on making public transport more attractive for people who currently prefer going by car. Kurzmann is also understood to ask SPÖ and ÖVP for support in subsidising the replacement of old coal-burning systems with eco-friendly alternatives.Too high amounts of fine dust in the air can lead to lung cancer, cardiac disease and other illnesses. Around 2,400 deaths are linked to effects of fine dust in Austria per year. Studies show that the life expectancy of Graz residents is diminished by 17 months due to the situation regarding fine dust levels in the city.Austria’s greenhouse gas emission level is meanwhile expected to soar as well.Car traffic, industrial production processes and household heating caused an overall carbon dioxide equivalent pollution of 80.1 million tons in 2009. This was a year on year drop of 6.8 million tons, but the amount may soar in the coming years since many firms plan to raise their business activities. This development – based on the recovery of the economy – could lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions rates.