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16 May 2018

The level of air pollution in Kosovo, harmful for the health of citizens

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During 2016 and 2017, hazardous parameters to human health such as dust particles PM10 and PM2.5, have not been reported for months, and particularly during the winter months when these parameters reach maximum values. Despite the deficient monitoring and reporting, in those cases when reported, the values of the parameter PM10 were exceeded up to 400%.

Dust particles are very dangerous to human health, as particles are very small in diameter and as such can travel deeper into our lungs and cause harmful effects to our health. The possible health effects that can be caused by these particles are: the increased number of patients with bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic lung disease at deferred ages, increased number of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer, shortening of life and growth of the mortality rate.

The performance audit report, “Institutional mechanisms for legal arrangement, monitoring and reporting on air quality” found that this system of monitoring and reporting, which is managed by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning and its mechanisms, does not provide the citizens of Kosovo a real picture of the situation on air quality, especially not in real time. The risk imposed by such system of monitoring and reporting consists in the monitoring stations being non-operational and without data particularly in those cases when air pollution in the country is severe and citizens are not aware at the right time to take the necessary measures to avoid exposure to such air pollution.

The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning has also not completed all necessary legal and physical infrastructure for the management of air quality status and has not updated the entire existing legal infrastructure according to the current state of air quality.Besnik Osmani, Auditor General within the Kosovo National Audit Office, in relation to this report has expressed: “Air pollution in Kosovo is concerning for the health of citizens, and even more concerning is the fact that citizens are not timely and properly informed about this issue”.

The process of data monitoring and reporting was hindered even more by issues such as the non-functionality, frequent displacement, security and damage of the stations that monitor and report the data on air quality.

Inefficiencies have also been identified at the local level regarding the non-approval of local environmental plans, non-reporting on implementation of these plans and not renewing the plans when they are not valid.

The National Audit Office has provided its recommendations whose aim is to ensure that the responsible authorities, respectively the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Hydro-meteorological Institute and the Municipalities, intensify their efforts to establish a full legal and physical framework as well as sustainable and efficient monitoring and reporting mechanisms. Improving the identified inefficiencies will assist in identifying the concrete measures that need to be taken in order to improve the state of air quality.

 

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