Emergency measures to protect residents from the harmful effects of air pollution were put in place in the Macedonian capital Skopje this week, in response to elevated levels of particulate matter in the city.
Coming into force on Monday (8 January) and ending today, the measures included offering subsidised and even free public transport for citizens to encourage them not to drive in the city centre whilst air pollution remained at a high level.
Limits were also placed on the delivery of goods in areas with heavy traffic, while authorities stepped up inspections of construction sites to encourage the use of water to suppress dust emissions from sites.
Other health advice issued to Skopje residents encouraged pregnant women, over 60s and asthma sufferers to remain indoors, whilst authorities temporarily called a halt to sporting and outdoor events.
On Monday, the government claimed that high concentrations of PM10 – coarse particulate matter – were recorded at the city’s two measuring stations at Lisice and Rektorat.
Further readings taken on Wednesday by the State Automotive Monitoring System for Air Quality (DAMSK), suggested that the PM10 concentration had lowered.
The government has been forced to implement the emergency measures for a second month in a row, after similar steps were taken late in December.
According to the World Bank, air pollution is a significant problem in Macedonia, particularly in highly urbanised and industrialised cregions such as Skopje, Bitola, Kavadarci and Miladinovci. Concentrations of particulate matter in the form of fine particles and soot regularly exceed EU limit values, the organisation claims.