Low vision Magyar verzió
Development of the Hungarian air quality network (OLM)
and laboratory background project
What you should know about smog

In 2013, smog season already started in November: dust particles (PM10) pollution was over the limit, but fortunately only less than a day. You can do a lot to protect your health: stay less in open air, ventilate briefly in the early afternoon, use public transport instead of your car, know the requirements of smog alert in your city.

There are two types of smogs: in winter, dust particles and nitrogen oxides, while in summer ground-level ozone can cause health hazards.

Smog situation occurs when one or more air pollutants are above the information or alert thresholds for a long time and on large area. In cities where smog situation can occur, a smog alert plan has to be prepared and confirmed by local governments. The plan contains communication guidelines and an alarm system.


Health limit: it doesn’t cause health problems

Information threshold: it can cause health problems to children, old and ill people

Alert threshold: it can cause problems to anyone

Air pollutants

In Hungary, the main threats to air quality are road traffic and outdated household heating. If the high level of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide cause smog situation, general public and public institutions should reduce the use of solid and oil-fired heating equipments.

Possible traffic restrictions and bans

In case of smog situation local governments can identify alternative routes, speed restrictions, temporary introductions or ban using the most polluting vehicles. It is possible to limit further use of the vehicle, for example
  • restrict the traffic during the day (except for the period from 22 hours to 6 hours),
  • publicize the use of public transport, or
  • extend the temporary parking facilities.
Air pollutants Health limits Information Alert
  daily average [μg/m3] hour average [μg/m3] thresholds
hour average [μg/m3]
sulphure dioxide 125 (3)** 250 (24)** 400 500
nitrogen dioxide 85 100 (18)** 350 400
carbon monoxide 5 000* 10 000 20 000 30 000
ozone - 120* 180 240
dust particles (PM10) 50 (35)** - 75*** 100***
  * daily maximum, 8-hour moving average concentrations
  ** in brackets: the maximum allowed number of exceedances per year
  *** 24-hour average, two days after each other, according to the weather forecast of the following day improvement is not expected

The National Air Pollution Test Network (OLM) (www.kvvm.hu/olm) is a public entity with the statutory responsibility of measuring and analysing air quality. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Rural Development, air test network is operated by regional environmental protection, natural protection and water management authorities. The test data are handled by the Air Cleanliness Reference Centre of the National Weather Service (OMSZ), which is also responsible for the overall quality of the data. Background pollution levels are measured at stations run by OMSZ. In addition, 52 OLM test stations in 31 towns and cities continuously measure the quantity of major air pollutants [sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, dust particles (PM10), benzene] as well as other meteorological parameters necessary for evaluation (wind direction and speed, temperature, humidity). Eleven of these stations are located in Budapest. Four mobile test stations (installed in buses) are also available, and three stations measure background pollution.

Environmental authorities monitor the quality of the air, and in case of smog alarm they inform the authorities concerned to take the necessary measures.

What can you do?

Stay less in the open air, so do not carry out work in the garden, do not walk around, do not jog or do a ride! Ventilate briefly in the early afternoon, use public transport instead of your car, and don’t burn leaves in your garden! Do not make any major dusting! Take care of young children, elderly and sick people!

Know and keep the requirements of smog alert of your city, so you will not only protect your own health, but also avoid the penalty. The maximum fine is 100.000 HUF.
This project is co-financed by Swiss Cooperation Programme for Hungarian.
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