sarajevo smog pollution.jpg
Photograph: EPA/FEHIIM DEMIR

Air pollution has reached alarming levels in several larger cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the concentration of hazardous dust particles in Sarajevo reaching a record 700 micrograms per cubic metre, the Hydrometeorology Institute of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation entity reported on Tuesday.

The border value of dust in the air considered to be hazardous to health in Bosnia and Herzegovina is 50 micrograms and the values measured in the country's capital indicate an extraordinary dangerous situation that directly threatens the population.

Benchmarks applied in the European Union set pollution limits for dust particles at 25 micrograms.

Very high concentrations of sulphur dioxide have been gauged in the northern town of Tuzla, with the average daily level exceeding 300 micrograms per cubic metre. The concentration of dust particles was at 200 micrograms.

Meteorologists have advised citizens to spend as little time in the open as possible and to wear protective masks.

Cantonal authorities in Sarajevo have proclaimed precautionary measures, however, the measures are merely recommendations to citizens to use less solid fuel for heating.

There are no definite plans in Sarajevo nor measures to reduce air pollution. Households are considered to be the greatest polluters in Sarajevo because due to their poor economic standards, they use poor quality coal for heating. Another major polluter are numerous vehicles that are more than 20 years old, with outdated engines that do not meet the minimum environmental protection standards.

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