Saturday August 24, 2019
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Air Pollution Worsens In Western Balkan Cities

Activists say the funds allocated are insufficient and that the government's response is inadequate.

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Smog, Air pollution
The study showed that light at night affects species' composition as well as their food chain length. VOA

When winter arrives in the Western Balkans, it is not unusual for dense smog to envelop its cities, making it hard to breathe and impairing visibility. But this year, air pollution levels are among the highest in the world and public anger is on the rise.

In recent days, the Bosnian, Macedonian and Kosovar capitals topped the charts of the world’s most polluted cities as the smog intensified due to heavy traffic, excessive use of coal, poor spatial planning and solid fuel based heating.

The air quality index measured by the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo hit 383 on Tuesday, a level identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as hazardous to health and almost 10 times the average. In Pristina, the index registered 415 on Monday night and marked air quality in several Macedonian towns as very poor.

“This is all the result of a situation in which political elites treat the city as a construction plot which should be occupied at all costs rather than a place where people live,” Anes Podic of Sarajevo’s Eko Akcija environmental group said.

global warming, air pollution, Asia
The sun is seen through evening air pollution, Feb. 8, 2018. VOA

“You can feel how bad the air smells even inside the car or home,” said a taxi driver Mirsad Pobric.

According to the WHO, pollution costs Bosnia the equivalent of more than a fifth of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) every year — around $3.9 billion — in lost work and school days, healthcare and fuel costs.

Macedonia loses an equivalent of 3.2 percent of GDP a year to pollution, the World Bank said in a report, more than$360 million a year.

As a way of bringing more attention to the issue, the Embassy of Sweden has been using red lighting on its facade in central Sarajevo to reflect air quality each day. The deeper the red, the worse the pollution.

According to the WHO, 230 Bosnians die of air pollution per 100,000 citizens a year, compared to 0.4 in Sweden. The World Bank estimates that in Macedonia there are 1,350 deaths related to air pollution per year.

Air pollution
Sweden has launched a four-year project in Bosnia that will bring together experts from its Environmental Protection Agency .Wikimedia Commons

“Pollution is killing people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, therefore something really needs to be done,” Swedish Ambassador Anders Hagelberg told Reuters.

As part of efforts to combat the issue, Sweden has launched a four-year project in Bosnia that will bring together experts from its Environmental Protection Agency and local hydro-meteorological agencies and governments.

The aim of the program is to help improve air quality monitoring but also to bring more investment into energy efficiency.

Also Read: U.N. Chief Warns The World About Not Doing Enough To Prevent Climate Change

Macedonia has launched its own program to combat air pollution to which the government allocated 1.6 million euros ($1.83 million) in next year’s budget. It aims to halve Skopje’s air pollution within two years by reducing taxes for central heating, restricting traffic and introducing stricter control of industrial emissions.

Activists say the funds allocated are insufficient and that the government’s response is inadequate. (VOA)

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Air quality Improves in Delhi After Several Years

Delhi's air quality improves to 'Good', best in years

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air quality
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (Safar) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the overall air quality index (AQI) of Delhi, which was at 47, falling in the good category. Pixabay

Delhi hasn’t breathed this clean in years. Rainfall in and around brought the capital’s air quality on Saturday to the “good” condition, while PM 2.5 levels, recorded at 15 by the US Embassy and 17 by Safar, were the lowest in this year.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (Safar) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the overall air quality index (AQI) of Delhi, which was at 47, falling in the good category.

The level of PM2.5 was recorded at 17 and the PM10 level was recorded at 31 on Saturday, Safar said. These denote levels of particulate matter, of two sizes up to 2.5 and 10 micrometres in diameter, in the atmosphere. In comparison, the AQI in New York was recorded at “good” at 17, at 34 in Frankfurt, while in London, it was “moderate” at 52.

A CPCB scientist said that in 2017, the city had witnessed the AQI recorded below 50 – at 42, but could not recall the exact date. The CPCB is recording AQI since 2015 and such good conditions have not been seen in the last four years.

Gufran Baig, scientist and programme director, SAFAR, said that this is the lowest AQI recorded this year and it will remain good for another two to three days. He said that the air quality has improved due to widespread rain received in the northern parts of the country.

air
The air quality has improved due to widespread rain received in the northern parts of the country. Pixabay

“Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, all areas surrounding are receiving a good amount of rainfall this year which is improving the air condition in the city. Such kind of rain was never received earlier so the air quality has never reached this level,” Baig said.

Also Read: 300 More Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations to Open in Delhi

Mahesh Palawat, Vice President, Meteorology and Climate Change, at private forecaster Skymet Weather told IANS that this was the longest spell of clean air experienced by Delhiites.

“The widespread rain has helped in improving air quality in Delhi as well as in Noida and Gurugram. Increased rainfall activity is likely to bring more respite in coming days,” he said, adding that the rain has helped in settling down pollutants. (IANS)