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My 2021 Environmental Map Award

2021 was the third year I sponsored a €500 award for the best map by a resident of Lithuania illustrating an environmental problem in Lithuania, a map whose dissemination I hope will raise awareness and a drive for remediation. Winners in 2019, 2020:

I awarded the 2021 prize virtually on December 22, as part of the yearly meeting of the Lithuanian Cartographic Society: to: Agnė Eigminienė, Povilas Rinkūnas, Linas Vaitkevičius, Rūta Četrauskaitė, and Rima Vaicekauskaitė for their interactive maps depicting air pollution monitoring in the Vilnius area.

By World Health Organization guidelines, air quality in Lithuania is considered moderately unsafe - the most recent data indicates the country's annual mean concentration of PM2. 5 is 12 µg/m3 (12 micrograms -- 12 millionths of a gram -- per cubic meter of air), which exceeds the recommended maximum of 10 µg/m3. This results in 3,350 premature deaths in Lithuania each year.

But air quality, especially in Vilnius, is improving. Here's the winning website -- created in Lithuanian, only:

The Google-translated landing page introduction:

An example of one of the interactive maps (with translated legends), showing extent of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution in Vilnius. NO2 gets in the air primarily from the burning of fuel by cars, trucks and buses, power plants, diesel-powered heavy construction equipment, and industrial boilers. People who live or work near busy roadways can experience high exposures, which can cause breathing problems, headaches, chronically-reduced lung function, eye irritation, loss of appetite and corroded teeth.

The highest concentrations of NO2 in Vilnius, shown as red (Pašilaičiai, in the Northwest part of Vilnius) and orange (in areas including Naujamiestis and Senamiestis).

The Lithuanian government is taking serious steps to monitor and reduce air pollution: "By order of Vilnius City Municipality, implementing the 2014–2020 European Union Structural Funds measure no. 05.6.1-APVA-V-021 “Improvement of ambient air quality” was prepared by Vilnius City Municipality Council in 2020. The preparation and implementation of programs is an obligation imposed on municipalities by the Law on Environmental Air Protection. The aim of the program is to maintain air quality favorable to human health and the environment and to reduce air pollution by particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and benzo (a) pyrene in Vilnius in order to ensure that their concentration in ambient air does not exceed the permissible level of ambient air pollution."

My hope for a 2022 submission for my environmental map award: a study and depiction of Lithuania's ocean, river, and lake water quality. Why? In a 2014 analysis, pollution caused by ship emissions, and by hazardous substances stemming from agricultural runoff and emitted by industry, was found to pose a very real threat to Lithuanian drinking water. Approximately 60% of Lithuania's rivers and 30% of its lakes and ponds do not meet minimum European environmental standards.


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