- Title: Belgrade joins world's most polluted cities as farmers torch fields
- Date: 24th October 2019
- Summary: BELGRADE, SERBIA (OCTOBER 24, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF CARS ON MOTORWAY, SMOG VISIBLE IN SKY TRAFFIC ON MOTORWAY BUILDINGS COVERED BY SMOG, BIRDS ON LAMPPOST BUILDINGS COVERED BY SMOG BUSES ON STREET, PEOPLE WALKING PEOPLE WAITING AT BUS STOP, BUS ARRIVING BUSES PARKED IN QUEUE VARIOUS OF BUS EXHAUST PIPES (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) BELGRADE RESIDENT, JOVAN TANASIJEVIC, SAYING: "Heating season has not even started yet and in the centre many people still use oil and wood for heating. Something will have to be done about that and we will have to reduce traffic" (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) BELGRADE RESIDENT, VANJA JANKOVIC, SAYING: "We have to start repairing roads on time and then there will be less traffic jams and less fuel will be used. That could be one of the things we could do and also we will have to stop using diesel cars." (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) BELGRADE RESIDENT, SRDJAN DIMITRIJEVIC, SAYING: "We can all witness the pollution. I live in the centre of the city and we all see it. No one is doing anything, and we citizens are not doing anything about it either." (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) BELGRADE RESIDENT, SANJA MIHIC, SAYING: "Filters should be used in the industrial zone and as far as cars go - we drive what we can afford and not many of us have money to buy new cars." BELGRADE, SERBIA (OCTOBER 23, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF THICK SMOKE RISING FROM FIELDS PANCEVO, SERBIA (OCTOBER 23, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PLUMES OF FIRE ON CORNFIELD SMOKE RISING FROM CORNFIELD TRUCK DRIVING NEXT TO CORNFIELD IN HAZE BELGRADE, SERBIA (OCTOBER 24, 2019) (REUTERS) RES FOUNDATION THINK-TANK ENVIRONMENT EXPERT, ALEKSANDAR MACURA, TALKING TO REPORTER RES FOUNDATION THINK-TANK ENVIRONMENT EXPERT, ALEKSANDAR MACURA, SAYING: "Whoever was on the road somewhere in Serbia lately could see fires in the fields and they almost look like wildfires. This can be source of pollution, but our measurements are telling us that domestic heating and small heating plants emit almost three-quarters of small dangerous polluting particles." SMEDEREVO, SERBIA (OCTOBER 23, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF STEEL MILL HOUSE NEAR ROAD, STEEL MILL HEAVY SMOKE COMING OUT OF CHIMNEY CITY COVERED BY SMOG BELGRADE, SERBIA (OCTOBER 23, 2019) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) VARIOUS OF BUILDINGS COVERED BY SMOG AT NIGHT
- Embargoed: 7th November 2019 13:41
- Keywords: API air visual smog Serbia environment air pollution city pollution air quality index stubble burning Belgrade
- Location: BELGRADE, SMEDEREVO AND PANCEVO, SERBIA
- City: BELGRADE, SMEDEREVO AND PANCEVO, SERBIA
- Country: Serbia
- Topics: Pollution,Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA001B2GJ515
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Despite clear skies and sunshine, air pollution readings in Belgrade have ranked the Serbian capital 16th of the world's most polluted cities on Thursday (October 24).
A day earlier, the Air Visual API application, which compiles data from ground sensors worldwide placed the city at 5th place in its daily ranking of most polluted cities.
Residents are worried and struggling to breathe in a city whose air pollution readings have approached those of Beijing, Delhi, Lahore and Karachi.
"Heating season has not even started yet and in the centre many people still use oil and wood for heating. Something will have to be done about that and we will have to reduce traffic," said Jovan Tanasijevic, 75, a pensioner from Belgrade.
Just outside the city centre, thick smoke has billowed from many fields set ablaze by farmers burning weeds and corn stubble due to a common belief that this is beneficial for the soil.
This has added to the fumes from older diesel cars, domestic heating, industry and nearby open coal pits to create a toxic mist hovering over the city of 2 million.
The average car in Serbia is around 17 years old, according to a Belgrade University study.
On Thursday pollution was particularly bad in the historical part of Belgrade which suffers from chronic traffic congestion and in the outskirts - hit by smoke from burning fields.
The parts of the city overlooking the confluence of the rivers Sava and Danube however, enjoyed a respite brought by a fresh breeze.
According to the European Union Environment Agency's air quality index the air quality in Belgrade's city centre on Thursday was ranked as harmful.
The poor air quality is a stark reminder of how Serbia must spend around 15 billion euros ($16.69 billion) before it joins the EU to comply with the bloc's regulations about environment and CO2 emissions.
Aleksandar Macura, an environmental expert with the RES Foundation think-tank, said burning fields were a source of pollution in recent days, but that domestic heating emitted almost three-quarters of polluting particles.
Serbia's fiscal advisory council has repeatedly warned that the government should begin investing about 1.3 percent of GDP to tackle environmental problems including air pollution and an acute lack of sewage treatment facilities.
(Production: Fedja Grulovic, Dominik Starosz, Suzana Sabljic, Alexandra Hudson)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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