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High levels of smoke in the center of Donostia-San Sebastián from Urumea fireworks_16

To get an idea of pollution by smoke generated in the environment Urumea by the launch of fireworks from a floating platform located between the bridges Santa Catalina and Maria Cristina, is recorded a video that can be seen in the following link:


After measurements PM2,5 particle made by our Cyclist Association Kalapie last summer in Fireworks Week, with levels of very high pollution in the air of a large area in the city center, it would be also now interesting to know the degree of smoke on viewers and housing closest to the place to be launched fires night of the past 23 December, and that apparently is scheduled to throw them again on 30 December and January 5.

The study was extended to other streets of the city center, as can be seen in the following image:

In the red line of the image are represented the results of measurements air quality (PM2,5 particle) that three members of Kalapie made simultaneously in the ten minutes that lasted fireworks with three PM2.5 monitors in the area between the river Urumea and a part of the center of Donostia- San Sebastián during and after the release of fireworks.

To be refered to PM2,5 particle, the green points is clean air, yellow regular, orange quite contaminated and red very contaminated, which shows the image is at least concern.

Line red covers a large area of the city center, comprising “el paseo de los Fueros, calle Prim, plaza de Bilbao, calles San Martín, Getaria, Arrasate …and from San Marcial street to Easo street”.

Images of the launch of fires from the floating platform on the Urumea river.

The short duration of fires prevented the members of Kalapie make more measurements in other streets of the city center but presumably the smoke would have come to extend an important part of the area between the river Urumea, avenida de la Libertad and Paseo de la Concha.

Risks of PM2,5 particle for health. Recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO proposed values guide attending strictly to health criteria, indicating the maximum amount desirable of exposure to contaminants. There are notable differences between the values established by the European Union (EU) and WHO guidelines. The recommendation annual of the WHO to PM2,5 of 10 μg/m3 is less than half the limit value of EU current 25 μg/m3 or 20 established for 2020, while the US regulated a limit value of 12 μg/m3. As for exhibitions daily PM2,5, WHO recommended lower values of 25 μg/m3 while the EU has no legislated value limit.

 PM2,5 sensors and its correlation with fixed stations.

Measurements were carried out with three small portable monitors PM2.5 low cost particle, measuring optically particles less than the 2.5 microns. The spanish High Council Scientific Research (CSIC) in a recent study with several sensors existing on the market to measure PM2,5 in real-time, concluded that the AIRBEAM2.5 was the team that presented better correlation results with sensors fixed stations of control of air pollution (reference) that are used in the main cities of the EU.

This is why we choose the airbeam PM2.5, that with the application of the latest technological advances (sensors, internet and apps) allows us to get data air quality urban in real-time. Sensors communicate with the smartphone, via bluetooh, which is located and displayed. Currently we have four small detectors with their corresponding smartphones associated to the measures, which have been payed  by Environment of the city Council Donostia-San Sebastian and the Cyclist Association  Kalapie.

While is done measurement we can go seeing in the smartphone at all times the level of PM2,5 fine particle, as well as the peak value and average value made. At the end of the measurement, the data are sent to a website http://www.aircasting.org/, in which are stored and, which is free access who wants to consult them.

Sensor AIRBEAM PM2,5 particle.


Monitor 1

The level of pollution existing in many of the points or moments of measurement was so high that exceeded widely the value maximum of detection meter 185 micrograms/m3, as seen in figure above, between 20 and 20.08 hours

Monitor 2

Monitor 3

Conclusions and final considerations.

The high concentrations of PM2,5 particle found in the area under study, exceed widely values recommended by the WHO, with high health risk of citizenship, especially of the most sensitive, located in the streets where smoke arrived from launch site of the fireworks.

Also values greater than 25 μg/m3 were found in large areas of the center, affecting people who were not watching the fires but walking in these privileged pedestrian streets of the city center.

These high levels of PM2,5 were not detected obviously in control stations of air pollution that the Environment Basque Government has installed in “Ategorrieta and avenida de Tolosa”, because they are too far from the city center.

In summary, the municipality of Donostia-San Sebastián should take into account the place more suitable of new releases fires, in order to safeguard the health of citizenship, especially considering that in this period of time many people affected were not watching the show pyrotechnic.

On the other hand, Environment Basque Government (entity competent in the matter) should extend the pollution control of their two fixed stations of PM2.5 particle, to portable monitors similar to those here used, in order to measure in area/points located in the environment of the production sites of pollution and, more specifically, in which an important part of the population is seeing fireworks.

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