According to a new report published by the European Environment Agency, people in Albania have a higher chance of dying from pollution than those in Western Europe.
Albania found itself second on the “worst countries” list, after Bosnia and Herzegovina. In BiH, 27% of deaths are related to air pollution and environmental issues. The rate of deaths is the highest in Europe, and 14 percentage points higher than the median of the EU which is just 13%.
With 23% of recorded deaths due to environmental matters, it is 10 percentage points higher than the European average
Europeans with the lowest risk of dying from pollution-related issues are those in Norway and Iceland where the rate of deaths is just 9%. In Denmark and Sweden, it’s 10%.
The report noted that Eastern European countries have a significantly higher environmental burden of disease and mortality than western Europe.
“A factor driving this pattern is energy poverty, which is more prevalent in southern and central-eastern Europe,” it adds, explaining that “poorer communities rely on the combustion of low-quality solid fuels such as coal and wood, in low-efficiency ovens for domestic heating.”
It also found that the Eastern part of Europe has more extreme weather including floods and extreme cold. Other factors impacting the big disparity between the two regions include lower sanitation levels and higher exposure to waste substances that are detrimental to health and life expectancy.
In particular, the Roma community in Central and Eastern Europe are often excluded from basic services and are exposed more to environmental pollution. This has serious health consequences for them, said the report.
In 2019, a UN report found that citizens across the Western Balkans including Albania are suffering from reduced life expectancy due to “alarming levels of air pollution”
The report said that pollution was resulting in a number of premature deaths. On average, 26,000 years of life have been lost over the last decade due to air pollution. All of these deaths have occurred under the age of 65.
Then in January 2020, the Numbeo Pollution Index placed Tirana as the third most polluted city in Europe. The top spot was taken by Tetovo in North Macedonia followed by Chelyabinsk in Russia. Its levels of pollution had increased based on figures from the previous year.