United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP delivers new climate and air quality monitoring stations for Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Country empowered to prevent deaths from invisible killer

Sarajevo -- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) opened two new air monitoring stations in Bosnia Herzegovina today and brought two existing ones back to full function. The move will significantly help the country monitor climate and air quality in line with national and EU law and prevent further illnesses and deaths from outdoor pollution.

Thanks to the new and refurbished stations, accurate data will be available to monitor climate changes and announce pollution alerts to the general public, as well as to measure the impact of policy measures to improve air quality.

Bosnia and Herzegovina - where air pollution is estimated to have caused over 3500 premature deaths in 2014 - now moves closer to being fully in line with EU legislation after signing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the bloc last year.

The move to boost air quality monitoring was announced at the country's Parliamentary Assembly today at an event organized by UNEP together with the country's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations.

'These new devices form part of the first comprehensive network of air quality monitoring stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and offer a real example of how human health and environment are intrinsically linked,' said Jan Dusik, Director of UNEP's Regional Office for Europe, welcoming the launch of new and refurbished stations. 'In complement with policy measures, they can save lives lost to the silent killer of air pollution,' he underlined.

The launch is part of a project by UNEP and the Global Environment Fund, worth US$ 1,438,000, to enhance data collection and reporting on the environment for UN's so called Rio Conventions - on climate change, on biodiversity and on desertification.

The two new monitoring stations are located in the cities of Prijedor and Gorazde. The locations were chosen by the country's Federal Hydro-meteorological Institute and the Republic Hydro-meteorological Service of the Republika Srpska so as to provide continuous monitoring in both urban and sub-urban environments. In Prijedor, the safe threshold for solid particles has been exceeded 19 times since 8 December 2015.

The restored stations are located in Ivan Sedlo and Banja Luka. In the latter town, the upper safe limit of solid particles 10 micrometres or less in diameter (PM10) was exceeded in all but one days of November 2015, with winter being the most common time for this to occur.

A 2015 report by the European Environment Agency estimated that over 44,000 years of life are lost in Bosnia and Herzegovina each year due to particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide or ozone pollution.

Situated in a basin surrounded by mountains, Sarajevo is prone to heavy fog that converts into smog when mixed with high pollution levels. In November and December 2015, a stable anticyclone combined with weak wind caused the pollutants to persist in the city's air for a prolonged period. Some schools were reported to have shut early ahead of their winter break due to the pollution.

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