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THINK about the fact that every day you breathe air that has been proven toxic in the laboratory; shortening life-span, retarding growth, stunting your development. Challenge yourself to make a difference. Think globally. Act locally. But act now.

So what is that black stuff in your nose? It could be the Geography: Prague is in a valley; air pollution falls down and is trapped. The inversion effect can be pictured this way: imagine Prague, nestled in the Vltava Valley with all its tributaries, as a big pot with a lid on top; everything stays down inside. So, in effect what would be a manageable level of pollution for a city, say, on the top of a mountain, is not the case for Prague. To the contrary, all the bad air is trapped and cannot move on. "The biggest air pollution threat in Prague now is traffic."

Highway traffic goes directly through the city; much non-Prague traffic mixes with inter-city commuting and causes big problems - traffic jams, more fumes. A highway carrying traffic from Plzen runs directly through the city. "Oxides are the most direct threat to our health."

Namely sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. Did you know that Prague exceeds her emissions limit of these oxides in Prague 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10 and 14 on any average day?

This means that on any given day, if you spend a lot of time in one of these places, you are breathing in what the city of Prague has deemed to be an unhealthy amount of this stuff. Your life is shortened. With each breath.

And Where does all this bad stuff come from? Not just from people's homes, as you might expect, although over 100,000 people in Prague still heat their homes with coal; not only from factories you see spewing smoke into the clouds in quite offensive-looking ways, but primarily from autos; which need to pass no emissions tests, and then from the high volume of non-local traffic passing through Prague - such as the traffic from Plzen.

What are the solutions? Greenpeace activists and other Prague residents suggest these:

HIGHWAYS: Start building NOW the round-about (road to circle Prague) which politicians have been shoving to the far side of their desks for "more urgent things. "

This would divert outside traffic from the Prague city center, diffuse it, and carry it around and up from the city instead of allowing smog to sink into the Vltava valley.

EMISSIONS: Instate auto exhaust regulations. In 1993, some were introduced to politicians and subsequently rejected.

UPGRADE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Many people find public transportation unacceptable. Greater efficiency and better conditions would make it acceptable to more people.

CAMPAIGN FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Some kind of advertising campaign targeted at curbing the wave of individual car ownership.

Major Pollutants:

1. nitrogen oxides: mostly from car exhaust, concentrated around highways running through city center which combine Prague city traffic with transport from across the country.

2. sulfur dioxides:caused by burning anything, but the biggest sources in Prague are coal burning (over 100,000 homes still use it as a heating source) and burning other natural fuels, i. e. , auto exhausts.

3. aerosals:also created by burning natural fuels.

4. dust:all sorts of fun stuff that likes to fly up your nose.