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Moscow's ecological situation "sharply worsens" - 5 September, 2002

On Thursday, the ecological situation in the Russian capital "sharply worsened", Yevgeniya Semutnikova, deputy head of the Mosekomonitoring State Environmental Enterprise, informed RIA Novosti. She attributed the smoke to forest and peat bog fires.

By suspended matters and carbon oxide /carbon monoxide/ the ambient air standard has been exceeded 3-4 times. This is the highest rate of late.

Consequently, according to ecologists, visibility dropped to 300 metres, whereas under normal conditions the range of view equals 18-20 km. "So far during severest fires it reached 1-3 km," Semutnikova added.

Due to poor visibility, many flights have been cancelled in Moscow's airports.

Concerning the impact of the fumigation on healthy people, a short stay outside is not risky, but they had better keep from being outdoors for too long, the Mosekomonitoring deputy head said. "The harmful contaminants that the air contains now do not accumulate in the organism, nor do they cause irreversible consequences," Semutnikova remarked. "Such short-term negative consequences as a tickling feeling in one's throat or headaches pass when the cause of the irritation is eliminated." At the same time those among the "risk group" of cardiorespiratory patients should avoid being outside for the time being, the ecologist added.