UN: Balkans faces alarming levels of air pollution

FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 file photo, a bird flies past as smoke emits from the chimneys of Serbia's main coal-fired power station near Kostolac, Serbia. People in all major cities across the Western Balkans face alarming levels of air pollution that are reducing resident’s life expectancies, as the underdeveloped, politically fragile region is still heavily reliant on burning coal to generate electricity and heat, the U.N. Environment Program said in a new report on Monday June 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

A new U.N. report says people in all major cities across the Western Balkans face alarming levels of air pollution that are reducing their life expectancies, as the region is still heavily reliant on burning coal to generate power

SARAVEJO, Bosnia — The U.N. says people in all major cities across the Western Balkans face alarming levels of air pollution that are reducing their life expectancies because the underdeveloped, politically fragile region is still heavily reliant on burning coal to generate power.

The report released Monday by the U.N. Environment Program was based on data from 18 cities and was prepared in cooperation with the World Health Organization and air quality institutions in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The report says people in the region "are exposed to some of the highest concentrations of air pollution in Europe . up to five times higher than the national and the EU guideline levels." It identified the Balkans' lack of access to renewable energy as a major cause of its air pollution.

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