Health impact of ambient air pollution in Serbia - A call to action
This report, on a comprehensive investigation on the impact of air quality on health in Serbia, assesses the effects of air pollution on health in major cities. The results show that long-term exposure to air pollution leads to premature death for a relevant percentage of the population, and short-term exposure to air pollution increases mortality risk. The investigation collected data on air quality, the population and its health in 2010–2015. Levels of pollutants exceeding the values of the WHO air quality guidelines and the limits set by European Union legislation on air quality were recorded in several Serbian cities. The WHO AirQ+ software was used to calculate the proportion of deaths due to air pollution for the main Serbian cities. The analysis of the national data shows that nearly 3600 premature deaths every year are attributable to exposure to fine particulate matter measuring ≤ 2.5 µm (PM2.5) in 11 studied cities in Serbia. Simulations of progressive reductions in current PM2.5 concentrations point towards major health benefits from improving air quality in the country. The results of this analysis indicate the importance of a reliable monitoring of air quality and the need for interventions to reduce the burden of air pollution in Serbia.