Skopje, a city of more than half a million people, has been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) amongst the cities in Europe with the highest concentration of harmful fine particulate matter (PM) 2.5 in the air, writes UNEP (UN’s environment program)
Particulate matter 2.5 includes a variety of components such as nitrates, sulphates, organic chemicals, metals, dust and black carbon, which pose a risk to human health. Due to their small size, they penetrate the lungs and are known to cause heart, lung and other diseases.
In terms of mean concentrations of both PM 10 and PM 2.5, the World Health Organization Ambient Pollution Database for 2018 ranks Skopje as Europe’s most polluted capital city.
The organization estimates that 2,574 people die prematurely in the country annually because of air pollution.
The geography of Skopje, surrounded by mountains, means that the polluted air is effectively trapped. Skopje is particularly affected by pollution in the winter season which has contributed several times to the closure of the city’s airport.