14 Jan 09

Air Pollution in Bosnia Hits Record Levels

Air pollution in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and several other towns has reached critical levels as Bosnians try to deal with gas shortages by using more basic, dirtier heating options such as fuel oil and firewood.
The situation is worse in Sarajevo, where levels of carbon dioxide and other pollutants measured in the air were at least eight times the normal amount, local media reported on Wednesday, quoting the Sarajevo Meteorological Institute.

It is the worst pollution measured in Sarajevo since the 1992-1995 war, when smoke from burning buildings created a thick smog that covered the city for several weeks.
Bosnians scrambled for alternative sources of energy, such as heating oil and firewood, after Russian gas supplies were severed due to Russia's dispute with Ukraine. Another main pollutant, experts say, is the large number of older vehicles which violate ecological norms for pollution.
Over the past few weeks, the situation has been aggravated by the poor weather and low pressure. Sarajevo is especially prone to smog as it is located in a long and narrow valley which hampers air flow. Before the war it used to be one of the most polluted cities in Europe.    

(Reporting by Srecko Latal)

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