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World News | North Macedonia takes emergency anti-pollution measures

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Skopje (North Macedonia), Dec. 25 (AP) — The North Macedonian government said it was taking emergency measures in the country’s capital, Skopje, and three other cities to protect people from severe air pollution.

There will be no sporting events on Sunday or any day with high levels of air pollution, and other outdoor activities will also be reduced.

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From Monday, construction work will be limited to six hours, from 11am to 5pm. The government has advised companies to exempt pregnant women and those over 60 from working.

The government also said it would halve the use of official vehicles and ordered the Ministry of Health and Welfare to provide shelter for the homeless and step up emergency services and home visits for those with chronic illnesses.

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The measures were announced on Saturday after days of lobbying by environmental groups for the government to take action.

The new rules coincided with an announcement by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir on Saturday that it ranked the North Macedonian capital as the third most polluted city in the world, behind Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek and Pakistan’s Lahore.

The levels of toxic PM10 and PM 2.5 particles in the air measured by IQAir in Skopje were about 28 times higher than the safe thresholds set by the World Health Organization.

PM10 particles are particles smaller than 10 microns, or one-tenth of a millionth of a meter, and are so-called coarse particles that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. PM2.5 particles can travel deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, where they are considered more dangerous.

For many years, North Macedonia has been one of the most polluted countries in Europe. Health authorities estimate that air pollution kills more than 3,000 people a year in this country of just over 2 million people, largely due to the heavy use of domestic wood-burning stoves during cold winters, an aging car fleet and the practice of incinerating waste in some areas.

The recent spike in energy prices has further boosted the use of wood-burning stoves. (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)



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