Tirana among most polluted capitals in the region says WHO

Tirana ranks among the most polluted capitals in the region according to a World Health Organization report which classifies Albania among the top 15 countries with the highest risk of respiratory disease.

The WHO Report ‘Ambient air pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease’ says that air pollution levels in parts of Albania, especially in the capital Tirana, are well above European levels.

Over the last decade, a growing body of epidemiological and clinical evidence has led to a heightened concern about the potential deleterious effects of ambient air pollution on health and its relation to heart disease and stroke. The report states that ‘the annual number of mortality due to cardiac arrest and cardiovascular disease caused by air pollution in Albania, is circa 780, while mortality due to air pollution in 2016 is 1842 people’.

In 2006 Albania drafted a new national strategy for lowering the amount of pollution in the country, focusing on improving air quality, protecting water and forest sources and promoting recycling.

However, e recent plan by the Albanian Government to legalize the import of recyclable waste into the country, has raised fears that pollution will increase further in the country and that any strategy will stay on paper.

Environmental experts and civil society representatives say that Albania does not have the capacities to control the management of imported waste and cannot guarantee the conditions in which such waste will be processed, while the country faces other more urgent problems which it needs to deal with.

According to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Albania faces numerous challenges related to environmental policymaking, planning and implementation, financing of environmental policies, waste and water management, biodiversity conservation and the integration of environmental concerns into energy and health policies.

Ambient air pollution poses serious health risks to Tirana’s 1 million residents as the city exceeds the WHO Air Quality Guidelines while the dramatic increase in the number of cars, and the number of old vehicles in use, as well as congested traffic due to urban public works is now a major cause of air pollution.

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