THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Poisonous smog envelops Moscow

A Moscow statue of Peter the Great was shrouded in smog yesterday. The air was expected to improve today. A Moscow statue of Peter the Great was shrouded in smog yesterday. The air was expected to improve today. (Alex Aminev/Reuters)
Associated Press / August 16, 2010

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MOSCOW — The poisonous smog that contributed to a higher death rate in Moscow last week returned to Russia’s capital yesterday, officials said.

The concentration of carbon monoxide in Moscow air was more than five times what is considered normal, said Alexey Popikov of weather monitors Mosecomonitoring.

In addition, “The level of hydrocarbon emissions — the substances that give the air this unpleasant smell — was 5.5 times higher than the usual Moscow level this morning,’’ he said, adding that by today winds will disperse most of the smog.

Acrid smoke from forest and peat bog fires blanketed Moscow until early last week, grounding planes in airports. Officials said the bad air factored into a near doubling of the death rate.

Emergency officials said 16 wildfires continued to burn outside Moscow.

Muscovites expressed disappointment with official efforts to stop the fires.

“I thought this nightmare was over, but here we go, it’s back,’’ said 28-year-old graphic designer Mikhail Talalikhin.

Officials warned that fires still rage in a national park near one of Russia’s largest nuclear research facilities in Sarov, 250 miles east of Moscow.