98177 2/27/2007 8:56 07BUCHAREST216 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 07STATE192623 VZCZCXYZ0020 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHBM #0216 0580856 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 270856Z FEB 07 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6126 UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000216
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - AJENSEN, OES/IHA - DWILUSZ
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ECON, ETRD, EAID, OECD, RO SUBJECT: ROMANIA: INDOOR AIR POLLUTION
REF: STATE 192623
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Embassy contacted GOR officials in the Ministries of Environment and Health as well as representatives of NGOs, and found them somewhat unprepared to discuss the questions of Romanian indoor air pollution (IAP). The issue is just beginning to appear on Romania's agenda due in large part to its recent EU accession. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Post has transmitted Reftel points to Attila Korodi, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Environment and Water
SIPDIS Management (MEWM) and to the Bucharest Institute for Public Health (IPH) under the Ministry of Health. Post notes that it has been difficult to identify interlocutors for discussing indoor air pollution, indicating a current low level of interest among GOR officials.
3. (U) The Ministry of Health is the government institution charged with monitoring indoor air pollution. It has set up a task force to deal with the IAP issue, with the Bucharest IPH taking the lead. Dr. Doina Lupuleasa is the chief of the IPH Habitat Department dealing with housing air pollution, Dr. Emilia Niciu is the Head of the IPH department covering the relationship between environment and health, and Mihaela Vasilescu is the Head of the IPH Water Laboratory. The Health Ministry is cooperating with the Ministry of Labor, Social Solidarity and Family on occupational exposure issues.
4. (SBU) IAP reduction is just now becoming a priority for the GOR, and has been included in its national plan and strategies. This is mostly due to Romania's recent EU accession on January 1, 2007, which focused attention on environmental policy after many years of neglect. Romania now reports periodically on its progress on the EU Regional Priority Goal III on air quality priorities. There have been some ineffective attempts to assess indoor air pollution and the GOR has mentioned the need to develop national indoor air pollution guidelines or norms. The Institute for Public Health has proposed a project, subject for approval at present, for indoor air quality as part of the National Environment and Health Program of the Ministry of Health.
5. (U) Currently, the GOR's main priorities linked to IAP are: -- Strengthening and updating the ability to monitor health effects in relation to environmental risks, including outdoor and indoor air quality. MEWM is responsible for monitoring outdoor air quality, while the Health Ministry is responsible for monitoring indoor air quality and its effects on the human life. -- Enforcing the EU "acquis" requirements on main pollutants and their monitoring, as well as updating the monitoring and reporting system based on Environment and Health Information Systems in Europe (ENHIS) indicators.
6. (U) The Romanian Government has also made some progress on its commitment to IAP reduction. Recently, Romania introduced smoking restrictions in restaurants. The National Consumer Protection Authority announced that restaurants must come into compliance with EU regulations regarding setting aside an area for smokers. Those which fail to comply will be given fines or may even be closed down.
7. (U) The Bucharest Institute of Public Health has a program on indoor air quality, aimed at setting up new guidelines for indoor air quality, especially for schools, public institutions and housing.
8. (U) The main research initiative of the Institute for Public Health is the APHEIS (Air Pollution and Health: European Information System) city pollution monitoring project. APHEIS is co-funded by the European Commission's Pollution-Related Diseases Program and by participating institutions. There are also ongoing projects on related health effects and indicators for exposure to lead, benzene, PM 10 and PM 2.5. The Institute began running awareness campaigns and advocacy for the rights of children to clean air, and is committed to further develop such activities.
9. (U) GOR officials were unaware of the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air but showed interest in learning more about this organization.
10. (SBU) COMMENT: Post believes that indoor air pollution is only beginning to gain attention in Romania, and that loosely embraced rules and legislation will not be enough to effect positive change in the short term. EU membership and continuing sensitization on pollution issues, however, will probably serve as catalysts to bring Romania along with other EU countries in focusing more on the indoor environment. END COMMENT.