The World Bank pointed out that people in the Western Balkans often breathe some of the most polluted air in the world, and this pollution contributes most to the total number of deaths and disabilities in this region, negatively affecting the environment as a whole.
Over the past fifteen years, the World Bank has invested more than $250 million in improving energy efficiency and reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions across the region, including through projects aimed at reducing overall heat demand, replacing old wood and coal-fired systems or promoting greater use of more energy-efficient lighting.
Citizens of Sarajevo, Skopje, Belgrade and many other cities in the Western Balkans often breathe some of the most polluted air in the world, especially in the winter months, when pollutants from coal-fired power plants, individual heating, vehicles, factories and other sources obscure the sun, pollute the environment and create respiratory problems for many.
The World Bank recalls that in 2019, with 175 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, Serbia was at the top of the list of pollution-related deaths in Europe and in 9th place in the world, ahead of India. It was also underlined that policymakers continue to explore multiple approaches to address the negative effects of pollution on health, the environment and the economy.
“There are three main directions of action to reduce emissions from heating, traffic and energy plants, and the latter means closing existing plants that produce and consume huge amounts of coal and are a source of huge pollution,” said the president of the Bosnian Association for the Protection of Environment, Nature and Health – Ekotim, Rijad Tikveša.
Emissions from heating and power plants, solid fuel combustion plants and other sources together produce particles (PM) that can be inhaled when their diameter is less than 10 microns. Exposure to PM2.5 particles is particularly dangerous to health because they can penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream. Finally, the estimated annual economic costs associated with the health damage caused by this pollution are incredibly high.
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