People of Skopje can give a sigh of relief that the winter is over. This city, being located in between the mountain ranges, becomes deadly valley during the wintertime. A blanket of smog settles over the valley because of the temperature inversions. Fresh air basically has no chance and neither do people living there. The concentration of poisonous particles named PM 2.5 in the air spikes to record heights and these small particles penetrate the respiratory system and bloodstream, and have been linked to premature deaths and various diseases.
“By breathing this air, we are slowly dying”
Tomislav Maksimovski, a Skopje resident
The fight against pollution in Skopje is hard given the fact that people actually have no other choice than to pollute the air during the winter. Because of the poor insulation of the pre-1990s Yugoslav-era buildings and the high costs of heating, people opt to use cheaper but non-eco friendly residential heating; burning wood or even plastic. Poverty in the region does not allow the inhabitants to afford the reconstruction of the residential buildings to ensure a better resistance during the winter months. Adding the passivity of the government to tackle the air pollution, people are becoming more and more frustrated. In regards to the gravity of the issue, a short movie called Winter, Leave was made by Contrast – Al Jazeera’s Immersive Storytelling Studio, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Have a look!
Find the full movie also here.
Find more information about the air pollution in Skopje here.