Atmospheric air pollution has always been the environmentally most sensitive issue in the Country. It was the unfortunate fact that in terms of urban air quality problems Georgia's most industrialized cities: Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Rustavi ranked at the top of the list of most polluted cities of the former Soviet Union. Despite the sharp decline in transportation and industrial activities in recent years, these unfavorable conditions in urban areas has hardly improved.
The registration of air polluting emissions in Georgia is conducted through the provision of annual statistical forms called "2-TP (Air)". Filled forms should be provided to the State Department of Social and Statistical Information by those industrial facilities, which emit more then 100 tones of harmful substances into the atmosphere.
Total amount of harmful substances emitted by traffic is calculated in accordance with the amount and quality of imported petrol and diesel fuel. It is widely accepted that these calculated figures underestimate real emissions, since only the government import is accounted for and there is a poor understanding of private sector contribution into the imported volumes of fuel.
Until 1991 the air quality monitoring system was based on more or less sound basis. Observations were performed in 11 cities: Tbilisi (7 stations), Rustavi (4 stations), Kutaisi, Batumi, Sokhumi, Tkvarcheli, Zestaponi, Gori, Marneuli, Kaspi, Akhaltsikhe (in total 34 monitoring points). At these stations 4 major parameters were measured 3 times per day: dust, carbon monoxide, nitrogen and sulphur dioxides. Other air polluting substances, like sulfates, hydrogen sulfates, phenol, formaldehyde, ammonia, ozone, benzapyrene and heavy metals were measured only at specific points. Unfortunately there has been no monitoring of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), methane or others.
Since 1991 due to energy shortages and economic difficulties the air quality monitoring system has almost completely disintegrated and currently only minor capabilities are still maintained in Tbilisi.
Major air pollution sources in Georgia are the traffic (non stationary sources), industrial and energy sectors (stationary sources). During the relative economic stability in 80-s these sources has been contributing to the annual emissions of 1370-1570 thousand tones of harmful substances with 66 - 70 % share from non stationary sources.
Starting from 1990 the sharp decline in emissions from these sources is observed. In the Year 1992 emissions reduced 4-5 times in comparison with 1988 levels. Despite the breakdown of air quality monitoring system after 1992, it is believed that air pollution from stationary sources reduced further down since that time.