Antismog Centers Open in Moscow

By Andrey Volkov
Andrey Volkov
Andrey Volkov
August 9, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

TOXIC SMOG: Russians wear face masks to protect themselves from forest fire smog while walking on Red Square in Moscow on Aug. 6. Smog from wildfires in the countryside cloaked Moscow, with levels of toxic particles, raising alarm over public health and numerous commuters wearing anti-pollution masks.(Natalia Kolenisova/Getty Images)
TOXIC SMOG: Russians wear face masks to protect themselves from forest fire smog while walking on Red Square in Moscow on Aug. 6. Smog from wildfires in the countryside cloaked Moscow, with levels of toxic particles, raising alarm over public health and numerous commuters wearing anti-pollution masks.(Natalia Kolenisova/Getty Images)
Moscow officials opened antismog centers on Sunday to help residents escape hot weather and the smog-choked city, according to local media reports.

The 122 centers across the city provided a respite from the heat and smog in air-conditioned rooms in hospitals and public buildings.

The capital has been enveloped on and off by dense smoke for several weeks since unusually high temperatures, hitting 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit, and severe drought have sparked fires in forests and peat bogs in central and western parts of Russia.

Wildfires across Russia caused at least 52 deaths, destroyed thousands of homes, and left thousands more people displaced, officials say. There are currently 830 wildfires burning across Russia, plus 29 peat bogs fires, the Ministry of Emergency Situations reported on Sunday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared last week a state of emergency in the most affected regions, including Voronezh, Vladimirskaya, Ryazanskaya and Nijegorodskaya.

Smoke coming from nearby has shrouded Moscow over the past week forcing some people to wear respirators and gas masks when walking outside.

The heavy smog has also caused delays and diversions of some 90 flights inside the country over the weekend. Airport websites reported on Sunday that the airports have reported normal operations.

The Moscow Ecological Monitoring Service said that the concentration of carbon monoxide in the air is still three times higher than normal levels, Russian state-run news agency Ria Novosti reported.