Air pollution is killing thousands of people prematurely each year in Bosnia & Herzegovina as authorities have failed to tackle the problem, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement on August 29.
The country ranks among the most polluted during winter months as it still relies strongly on coal and wood for heating and electricity generation. According to HRW, Bosnia has the fifth-highest mortality rate caused by air pollution.
“An outdated reliance on coal in Bosnia and Herzegovina is killing thousands every year, while the authorities do little to prevent the problem or even to warn people of the risk to their health,” Felix Horne, senior environment researcher at HRW, said in the statement.
It added that every year around 3,000 people die prematurely from exposure to air pollution, which is 9% of all deaths. During winter, the level of fine particulate matter, nitrous dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other deadly pollutants regularly exceed the safe levels set by the World Health Organisation.
People living near any of the Bosnia’s five coal plants said that friends, family and neighbours had died from cancer and cardiovascular or respiratory ailments, allegedly caused or exacerbated by the pollution from the plants. That has been confirmed by healthcare workers in those areas.
At the same time, local government authorities have admitted that the country’s 17 air pollution monitoring stations sometimes are out of service, especially in Republika Srpska – the Serb-dominated autonomous entity, which, along with the Muslim-Croat Federation, make up Bosnia. At the same time, many of the stations do not adequately monitor particulate matter 2.5, which is one of the main pollutants.