The National Audit Office’s audit of ambient air condition assessment has shown that although the State’s priorities are declared to be focused on a clean and safe environment, with the aim of reducing the amount of air pollution harmful to people’s health by half in Lithuania’s towns and cities by 2030, there is still a lack of systematic and comprehensive monitoring of the ambient air condition. Without such monitoring in all Lithuanian municipalities, it is not possible to take effective measures to reduce air pollution.
The National Audit Office notes that the monitoring of ambient air quality at three levels, i.e. State, municipality and economic entity, is necessary to fully assess air quality. 51 municipalities do not perform continuous air quality monitoring at the national level, although in 11 of them, additional analyses of particulate matter concentrations in 2019 showed that concentrations of these pollutants exceeded the World Health Organisation’s recommended standards in all the municipalities audited. 29 municipalities do not perform air monitoring at either State or municipal level, therefore their residents cannot be assured of the quality of the air they breathe.
According to the World Health Organisation, particulate matter is the most harmful air pollutant to human health, and even very low concentrations are harmful. Chronic particle exposure increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases or lung cancer. However, today the authorities responsible for air monitoring do not have enough up-to-date, detailed data on air quality in all municipalities in Lithuania, and the population is not informed about increased air pollution. In this situation, it is difficult to reduce air pollution,” said Audit Team Leader Rasa Pupeikytė-Usačiova.
Identifying all polluting companies and ensuring that they monitor and report on air pollution is a crucial factor in reducing air pollution. However, the exact number of such polluters and the environmental impact of their activities are still not known.
The National Audit Office has made recommendations to the authorities responsible for environmental monitoring (the Ministry of the Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency) to improve the three-level monitoring of the ambient air condition and to make appropriate decisions on pollution management. The implementation of the recommendations of the National Audit Office would ensure systematic monitoring of the ambient air condition in all polluted areas, and the results of the monitoring will be conveniently systematised and used to develop measures for air quality management and air pollution reduction.