Heating woes fuel Balkan smog crisis
AS WINTER grips the Balkans, the poor are caught in a cruel bind, being forced to light fires at home for heating while fuelling a pollution crisis smothering the region.
In recent weeks, Balkan capitals from Belgrade and Sarajevo to Skopje and Pristina have been ranked among the world’s top 10 most polluted major cities, according to the monitoring application AirVisual.
While these are small cities compared to leading Asian polluters like New Delhi and Dhaka, a combination of coalfired power plants, old cars and fires to heat homes are pumping the air with toxins.
“I know it is polluting. I am not an idiot but my only other choice would be to heat this home with electricity and that is damn expensive,” said Trajan Nestorovski, who like many in his working-class Skopje neighbourhood burns wood to stay warm in winter.
His wife Vera added: “There are a couple of factories near our neighbourhood that are burning God knows what in the evenings”.