Is Turkmenistan Responsible for Poor Air Quality in Zagreb?

Lauren Simmonds

As if a global coronavirus pandemic, a set of earthquakes and snow weren’t enough, Zagreb now has to deal with another problem – a concerning amount of air pollution hanging over the city. Does the answer to the city’s poor air quality lie in Turkmenistan?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of March, 2020 in the western part of the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan, sand dunes as high as ninety metres extend in parallel, in a meridional direction.

Unusually high concentrations of PM10 particles were recorded across various cities and areas in Croatia, more specifically in Zagreb, Osijek, Kopački rit, Sisak and Zoljan near Našice yesterday, according to a report from Večernji list.

Experts from the ”Dr. Andrija Štampar” Public Health Institute and the DHMZ are telling the public that this air pollution of sorts is made up primarily of sand particles which have travelled from Turkmenistan’s Karakum desert, located east of the Caspian sea.

They noted that air pollution should drop down to significantly lower levels over this coming weekend. According to the Croatian Encyclopedia, the the Karakum desert, sometimes referred to as the Garagum deser, is a sandy desert in Turkmenistan, Central Asia. It extends from Lake Sarikamish and Amu ‑ Darje in the north, to the Kopet Dagh mountains in the southwest and the Garabil hills in the southeast. It covers about 350,000 square kilometres in total.

As previously stated, in the the western part of the Karakum desert, sand dunes which are almost ninety metres high extend in parallel, in a meridional direction. Along approximately 1300 kilometres of the Karakum canal (Amu-Dar-Murgab-Aşgabat-Serdar/Gyzylarbat), which irrigates about one million hectars of land in total, cotton is also grown. Sulfur, oil, and gas deposits are rich there. The southern part also sees the the Trans-Caspian railway pass through it.

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