Belgrade becomes one of the most polluted capital cities

The capital of Serbia is the no. 1 in the world, but not in a good way – in the last two days, Belgrade was one of the most polluted cities in the whole world.

Despite clear skies and sunshine, residents of the Serbian capital have gasped this week in the acrid air, struggling to breathe in a city whose air pollution readings have approached those of Beijing, Delhi, Lahore and Karachi.

The Air Visual API application, which compiles data from ground sensors worldwide, ranked Belgrade 16th of the world’s most polluted cities on Thursday.  It stood at 5th place a day earlier.

Just outside the city centre, thick smoke has billowed from many fields set ablaze by farmers burning weeds and corn stubble due to a common belief that this is beneficial for the soil.

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According to the European Union Environment Agency’s air quality index the air quality in Belgrade’s city centre on Thursday was ranked as harmful.

The Serbian Environmental Protection Agency said air pollution had been high for several days in the capital because of unusually warm weather.

Levels of particulate matter (PM10) were higher than 200 microgrammes per cubic metre in Belgrade and its suburbs, where more than 1.6 million people live, the agency said.

Those levels of air pollution are bad enough to affect not just people with pre-existing conditions but the whole population, it said. Conditions were not likely to significantly improve before Tuesday and a change in the weather, said the experts. Contributing factors appeared to be the burning of farmland to clear the land for more crops and a fire that broke out at a council rubbish dump in Belgrade. It was a similar story in other Serbian cities, including Novi Sad, Pancevo and Subotica in the northern half of the country, and Uzice in the southwest.

Only a few days ago, the Serbian Environment Minister, Goran Trivan said that the situation with air quality in Belgrade was not alarming at all.  According to him, a higher level of pollution is the result of a combination of two factors – unusually warm autumn and heavy traffic.

“Of course, I am concerned about the health of our citizens. We are all responsible in some way, there is no-one who is more responsible for this situation that we are because a substantial number of citizens drive cars. We have seen a huge increase in vehicle imports over the last 5 to 7 years. And certainly, this affects air quality, especially in cities, where there is the highest concentration of traffic,” Trivan said.

(N1, 26.10.2019)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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