Effective air quality improvement measures necessitate an up-to-date knowledge of pollution levels. The National Air Pollution Test Network (OLM) is a public entity with the statutory responsibility of measuring and analysing air quality. In order to improve the test quality and extend the range of materials measured, the network needs to be upgraded continuously. Funds from the European Union are available for that purpose.
Under the auspices of the Rural Development Ministry, the 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.
National Air Pollution Test Network stations (source: OMSZ)
Besides the automatic test network, a manual measurement network called RIV is in operation as well. The sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide content of the samples is analysed in labs.
The home page of OLM (www.kvvm.hu/olm
) provides current air pollution data and related information. Eight large plasma screens are set up in the largest Hungarian cities to display the values measured by the automatic test stations. Current pollutant concentration levels (in percentage of the health hazard threshold value) are also shown on boards near test stations.
Monitoring changes in air quality requires continuous upgrades of the tools used by the National Air Pollution Test Network (OLM) and an extension of the range of materials measured. (For example, the concentration of PM 2.5 particles has been measured since 2009.) Furthermore, outdated equipment needs to be replaced as 35% of the current equipment is more than 10 years old. The measured data allows for regular (annual) air quality evaluation and information to be provided to citizens. Also, immediate intervention is possible in an emergency. In addition to the nation-wide network, some cities have local air quality monitoring systems that provide direct information to residents. The basic technical data of and annual emissions by industrial plants are registered in the Air Cleanliness Information System (LAIR). Data from four regional background pollution measurement stations (at K-puszta, Nyírjes, Hortobágy and Szentgotthárd-Farkasfa) are used to monitor and model the spread of atmospheric pollution. These stations, operated by the National Weather Service, register the concentration of the main atmospheric trace gases (e.g. sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone), aerosol particle components (e.g. sulphate, nitrate, ammonium) as well as the chemical composition, acidity and conductivity of precipitation.