All cards on the table about air quality

Whether we are breathing increasingly polluted air or merely becoming more aware of this thanks to popular apps and activist campaigns, public pressure remains a crucial tool for the improvement of the monitoring system and fulfillment of the right to being adequately informed about the pollution levels.

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RERI and BOS: No significant improvements have been made in the revised Draft Air Quality Plan for Belgrade

The Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI) and the Belgrade Open School (BOS) organized the third round of public consultations on March 23, this time on a repeated public hearing on the Draft of the Air Quality Plan for Belgrade. After the first two rounds of consultations, in December 2020 and January 2021, by organizing the third round, we continued the process of conducting public consultations with the aim of involving the public in the process of drafting a new Air Quality Plan for Belgrade.

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No room for coal-fired thermal power plants and polluting industry in the Western Balkans anymore

Coal combustion is the biggest individual air pollution source in the Western Balkans, with thermal power plants leading the way. Companies that run them and the states in the region do not adhere to the laws on harmful gas emissions. The same applies for other large combustion plants – industrial plants with the largest energy consumption which, besides electricity production, are mainly responsible for pollution. A continued use of coal-fired thermal power plants will make it impossible to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In addition, the industry faces a financial collapse if it fails to quickly adopt cleaner technologies.

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More air pollution, fewer children in the Western Balkans

Poor air quality is among the causes of increased infertility and growing sterility rates in women and men across the Western Balkans. It particularly affects women living in polluted areas, since air pollution may cause a reduced number of healthy egg cells and thus decrease fertility rates, also lowering in vitro fertilization success rates. Particulate matter PM 2.5 reduces fertility by 2% per 10 µg/m3 in the air. 

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What is polluted air doing to us in the Western Balkans?

Breathing polluted air leads to increased mortality, shorter life expectancy and a higher rate of chronic diseases. At the same time, healthcare expenses paid by the Western Balkans citizens are increasing. Air pollution also causes a growing number of working days lost, along with the number of hospital days. Air pollution reduction is a public health measure which would directly help improve the citizens’ quality of life and health and, indirectly, lower mortality rates.

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Misfortune never comes alone: Air Pollution and COVID-19

For years, Western Balkans has been one of the regions in Europe most affected by air pollution. Cities in this region frequently top the lists of world’s most polluted cities. When one adds to this the global COVID-19 pandemic which to a great extent marked 2020 and is still ongoing, this results in an additional increase in respiratory disease and higher mortality rates.

Over 20 new local communities in the citizen air quality monitoring network

The Belgrade Open School, in cooperation with local civil society organizations and the “Eko-Straža”, has expanded its citizen air quality monitoring network to more than 20 new local communities in Serbia. The action of expanding the network was carried out during December 2020 and January 2021. Thanks to new sensors installed throughout Serbia, primarily in those environments where there is no real-time monitoring in the state and local network, many citizens can monitor air quality live.

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Građanska mreža za merenje kvaliteta vazduha u Srbiji

Belgrade Open School contributes to accountable environmental policy, based on civic participation in the decision making process and partnership of civil society and public institutions.