Bosnian capital of Sarajevo hit by dangerous air pollution

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Hilltops and a TV tower are surrounded by fog in Sarajevo, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. The local government in Sarajevo issued a warning to residents to avoid spending time outdoors as extremely high pollution levels are being recorded in the air of Bosnian capital in last two days. (AP Photo/Eldar Emric)

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Authorities say air pollution in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo has reached dangerous levels in recent days, prompting officials to ban freight vehicles from the roads, cancel all outdoor public events and warn citizens to remain indoors.

Officials have also reduced coal-fueled central heating temperatures for buildings and banned dust-producing construction.

The measures were imposed this week by the Sarajevo regional government. It says Sunday that for most of the past three days, the values for PM10 particulate matter in the air have been at least twice — and sometimes five times — the European Union limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter.

Situated in a deep valley and surrounded by high mountains, Sarajevo has historically suffered from high concentrations of fog, smog and dust.

However, the situation further deteriorated in the past decade due to the proliferation of tall buildings that block airflow, the use of old and highly polluting vehicles and the increased use of coal for heating in the city.

According to a recent report by the U.N. Environment Program, Sarajevo residents are exposed to some of the highest concentrations of air pollution in Europe. The U.N. says that has reduced life expectancy in the country up to 1.3 years.

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