A RECORD warm January has worsened air quality rates in Alicante province due to the ever-present anticyclone over Spain resulting in fewer winds.

The month has produced little rain in the region and combined with lower airflow, polluting particles have accumulated due to the air remaining stagnant.

Although the concentration of ozone is not within risk levels, some centres have recorded above 50 ppb (particles per billion).

Throughout January, Environment Ministry monitoring detected several high peaks of particles and at the weekend values of up to 85 ppb were reached.

On Monday in Alicante City, 67.6 ppb was hit in the Rabassa area, while in the Pla it reached 74.5 ppb.

ALICANTE CITY(Pixabay image)

Urban figures are higher due to traffic pollution and in other centres, the values recorded were Elche, 66; Benidorm, 80; Elda, 64.6; Villena, 62.3; and Alcoy, 55.1.

According to the methodology of the EPA (American Environmental Protection Agency), the municipality with the worst air quality index on Monday was Elda, with a value of 49.

That was followed by Alicante with 41; Torrevieja, 39; Orihuela, 38; Benidorm, 36; Pinoso, 30 and Alcoy, 27.

The EPA index is calculated by averaging all pollutants with a rating of above 51 considered as fair.

Alicante University climatology expert, Jorge Olcina, said: “In these weather conditions, air quality is being lost because it is not renewed with traditional winter winds less active.”

Adoracion Carratala, who carries out air quality studies in Alicante, said that ‘with stable weather, where there is no wind, an anticyclone is like putting the lid on a pot.’

“Pollutants are concentrated in the atmosphere and it is something that also happens on cold days,” he added.

“There are situations of thermal inversion in which pollutants are concentrated.”

Carratala expanded further on the effects on the long-term anticyclone conditions mixed in with traffic pollution.

“Nitrogen oxides are rising, mainly gases from traffic pollution and dawn is the time when they concentrate the most.”

“The mixing layer has the minimum thickness and as the day warms, the thickness of the atmosphere increases and there is a dilution of the pollutants, but because the air doesn’t change, it goes up and up,” Carratala explained.

“Generally, this type of situation doesn’t usually last for many days, but if there is no air it can get worse, especially in large cities,” he said.


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