Bosnia and Herzegovina annually is losing 21.5% of its GDP, that is more than 7.2 million dollars (more than 12 million KM), due to the high air pollution, according to the World Health Organization. Domestic and international environmental organizations for decades warn of an alarming air pollution in our country, which year after year is a growing problem.
Residents of BiH well remember last winter when the concentrations of dust and other harmful particles in the air were so great that the streets of Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica, Kakanj and other towns so they literally could not walk without a protective mask, and when was because of the polluted air temporarily interrupted teaching in Sarajevo schools.
Numerous health problems
In Sarajevo, then dust concentration exceeded the value of 300 micrograms per square meter, while in Tuzla, near the thermal power plant, measured and more than 1,000 micrograms. According to EU standards, in the cities to tolerate dust concentrations between 25 and 40 micrograms per square meter.
Fossil fuels, which people use for heating in the winter months, and outdated cars on the roads are the primary sources of air pollution in BiH, told factor Amina Omićević, spokeswoman of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
– What UNEP is trying to achieve, primarily in Sarajevo and Banja Luka is to promote central heating systems to make them more accessible to citizens, and to use fuels that are better for air quality. In Sarajevo Heating certainly use gas, in Banja Luka, unfortunately, it has so far been fuel oil. Sarajevo was for many years one of the most polluted cities in Europe, and the situation does not facilitate nor geomorphology, considering that the city is located in the valley. In winter air pollution in some cities in BiH exceeds the value of up to five times – emphasizes Omićević.
Air pollution costly for BiH not only economically but also in terms of general health of the population. World Economic Forum (World Economic Forum) has recently published a list of countries where pollution is killing the largest number of people – Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the first on the list with an estimated population of 223.6 per population of 100,000 people a year die from the effects of pollution, and the main “culprit” according to traffic. According to this list, created on the basis of the data of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Environment Agency, even China less polluted than BiH (163.1 deaths per 100,000 population). On the list of the most polluted countries in the world are, and Serbia, where it is estimated that annually per 100,000 inhabitants pollution kills 137 people, as well as Romania, Ukraine, Albania and Bulgaria.
Research shows that the number of deaths related to pollution and growth in the coming decades. According to the Association for health and the environment from Brussels, published in March this year, the health costs associated with air pollution from power plants in BiH amounts to 3.1 billion euros per year, which represents a third of the total cost of this source in the Western Balkans.
Budget medical expenses directly associated with air pollution from power plants takes account of premature death, hospital admission associated with respiratory and cardiovascular problems, new cases of chronic bronchitis and lower respiratory tract symptoms, use of drugs, as well as days of restricted work activity due to poor health.
Too small allocations
Otherwise, three of the ten najzagađujućih power plants in Europe are located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thermal power plant in Ugljevik leading the emissions of sulfur dioxide in Europe, followed by thermal power plants in Kakanj and Tuzla. Sulphur dioxide is a special danger to health because the atmosphere is formed suspended particles that cause the whole range of problems – from asthma attacks, bronchitis and allergies, and serious lung and heart problems.
Despite periods of poor air quality often last for several months, pollution in BiH has not yet been recognized as a political priority, says Amina Omićević.
– The problem is that the budget allocation for the improvement of air quality is relatively small compared to the investment that our production facilities and power plants require in order to improve the quality. Therefore, it is necessary actions from the very top of government to budget funds to a greater extent shifted to improving the quality of life – concludes Omićević.