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Over half of CIS residents live in hyper-urbanized territories – Onishchenko

May 18, 2012, 22:50 UTC+3

The share of water, which fails to meet sanitary and chemical norms, neared 22% in Russia in 2010

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ST. PETERSBURG, May 18 (Itar-Tass) —— Over a half of people in CIS member countries live in hyper-urbanized territories. More than 50 cities have a high or very high level of air pollution, Russian Chief Public Health Official, Federal Consumer Rights and Healthcare Service head Gennady Onishchenko said at the Fifth Nevsky International Environmental Congress on Friday.

The maximum permissible concentrations of dust, CO2 and other pollutants are exceeded by up to ten times in large and medium cities of CIS countries, he said.

The share of water, which fails to meet sanitary and chemical norms, neared 22% in Russia in 2010. The indicator stood at 21% in Moldova and 8% in Belarus, Onishchenko said. The share of water with unsatisfactory microbiological parameters was 18%, 43% and 8% correspondingly.

“Water supply to countryside residents is a particularly topical problem,” Onishchenko said. The share of substandard water by microbiological parameters in countryside areas of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan exceeds tap water indicators by three to five times, he said. The problem is the severest in Kyrgyzstan, where about 20% of villagers consume water directly from rivers and irrigation canals. European experts estimate annual losses of the republic from diseases contracted from water at $125 million.

The World Health Organization has set a number of health parameters indicative for the environmental status. The average lifespan is one of them, Onishchenko said. “The best indicators are reported from Armenia, Belarus and Azerbaijan, where an average lifespan is steadily higher than 70,” he said. “Russia is very close to that,” he said.

Onishchenko refused to name CIS countries with insufficient lifespans. “We should give only positive examples,” he said.

In turn, Acting Natural Resources and Ecology Minister Yuri Trutnev told the forum that the number of Russian cities with high and very high pollution levels would decline by no less than five times before 2020, while the discharge of pollutants from stationary sources would be cut by 20% on the average and the polluted area would reduce by 10%.

Seven environmental regulation laws have been drafted in the recent years, and four of them are passing the second reading at the State Duma. Three laws with regard to monitoring, environmental supervision and conservancy areas have entered into force.

Russia modernized 1,840 meteorology and air pollution control stations and 64 atmospheric probing stations in 2010-2012. More than 3,000 hydrological monitoring stations will be modernized, a new radar network will be created and the orbiting cluster of Earth monitoring satellites will be restored within eight years, Trutnev said.

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