FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Environmental Film No. 5
The 20-minute documentary film “Deadly Formulas” about air pollution in Armenia was recently released by Vem Media Arts of Yerevan. This is the fifth in a series of environmental films funded by Armenia Tree Project, Armenian Forests NGO, and the World Wildlife Fund Caucasus Office.
In almost every town in Armenia, the average annual concentration of dust exceeds the allowed maximum by 2-3 times. The existence of harmful carcinogens and toxic substances in the dust emitted from industrial processes that are not controlled leads to a 15-20 percent increase in adult death rates, according to the film. Vehicles, factories, and combustion emission from waste removal produce hazardous compounds such as dioxins, lead, nitrogen oxides, and benzopyren. Needless to say, air pollution in Armenia has many people concerned about possible health risks.
A dramatic increase in copper prices within the past four years is just one example of how economic changes are impacting the environment and public health, particularly in northern Armenia. During this film, Alaverdi residents express health concerns due to the emission of harmful smoke from the Alaverdi Copper-Smelting plant. The plant annually emits over 40 tons of sulfuric dioxides into the air, exceeding the maximum allowable levels by 9-11 times.
Unfortunately, due to the open-pit mining method which will be used to remove the soil and extract the ore from a copper deposit in Alaverdi, 600 hectares (1,500 acres) of Teghut Forest will be destroyed. The Kharatadzor gorge next to the forest will serve as a tailing dump for the toxic sludge that will result from processing copper and molybdenum from the mine, destroying this area’s diverse ecosystem.
The second half of the film covers air pollution resulting from a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles and from poor industrial practices. In 2005 alone, 20,000 additional vehicles were imported to Armenia. The gases emitted from these vehicles are responsible for 97 percent of urban air pollution.
Knarik Grigorian, an expert representing Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment NGO, states that in the case of adults and teenagers, nine of the diseases caused by ecological toxins have expanded in the last four years and in regard to children, five such diseases have grown in their rate of incidence.
The film states that for over 15 years--since the collapse of the Soviet Union--the major industrial enterprises which produced atmospheric pollutants have not been operating in Armenia. However, the air has not become cleaner. This is because parallel to the collapse of large industries another dangerous phenomenon--destruction of green areas--has taken place on a wide scale.
Written by Inga Zarafyan and produced by Hayk Kbeyan, the 20-minute documentary film, “Deadly Formulas” is available for personal and public viewing in DVD format. To acquire a copy of the film with English subtitles, contact Armenia Tree Project via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.