Breathing polluted air leads to increased mortality, shorter life expectancy and a higher rate of chronic diseases. At the same time, the amounts of health care paid by the citizens of the Western Balkans are increasing. Air pollution also causes an increased number of lost working days. Reducing air pollution is a public health measure that will directly help improve the quality of life and health of citizens, as well as a lower mortality rate.
Poor air quality in the Western Balkans puts the region at the top of Europe’s most polluted areas, causing public health to decline. Countries in the region are particularly at risk because air pollution, combined with lower levels of economic development, poverty and sub-standard health systems, together create a deadly situation.
Part of the main sources of air pollution in the Western Balkans are the use of coal for electricity production, burning of coal and wood in residential and commercial buildings, industrial emissions, waste incineration, agricultural and construction activities, transport vehicles and generators of diesel. These are the major sources of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ozone, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and heavy metals, which are responsible for millions of premature deaths each year worldwide.