Protests break out in Balkan states over heavy pollution

Unusually high levels of pollution in Bosnia and other Balkan countries have prompted citizens to take to the streets and demand action from their governments.
Residents in Balkan states have been warned to stay indoors and avoid physical activity, after levels of pollution were found to have been up to eight times the EU safety limit.

Air pollution levels peaked at the weekend in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, while Serbian officials called an urgent meeting to address the problem there.
On Twitter, the Swedish embassy to Bosnia said that Sarajevo was “in a category of its own when it comes to bad air quality.”
Activists say authorities are doing too little, too late.

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Some have criticised the government for relying on short-term measures such as recommending face masks or banning diesel vehicles during crisis days, rather than dealing with major causes, such as high rise buildings that hamper the flow of fresh air.

Image: A bridge in Belgrade covered in smog
Belgrade, the Serbian capital, has been covered in thick smog, with a website ran by the state’s health department simply saying: “The air in Belgrade is polluted!”

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An open letter from protest group Do Not Drown Belgrade called for the resignation of the city’s mayor, saying: “The air we breathe is poisoning and killing us.”
“Why isn’t anyone doing anything?”
Officials say the problem has been caused by “inefficient energy consumption, outdated industrial equipment and use of fossil fuels in winter”.
Experts have warned that the lack of action on pollution may stall applications by Serbia and others to join the European Union.
In Croatia, which is already an EU member, police said the pollution limit imposed by the bloc had been exceed in the capital, Zagreb. Authorities have urged residents to avoid open-air activity and cut down on smoking.

Source : Sky News