Coal’s unpaid health bill in Bosnia & Herzegovina estimated at €3.1 billion

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Category: Air
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Sarajevo/Brussels, 15 March 2016 – First-ever estimates of the health costs associated with air pollution from coal power plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina are released today as part of a report covering the Western Balkans region produced by the Health and Environment Alliance, a European non-profit alliance.

 

- A new study quantifies the public health costs of polluted air from existing coal-fired power plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina at up to 3.1 EUR billion per year in annual health damages

- Three of the 10 most polluting coal-fired power stations in Europe are located in Bosnia and Herzegovina adding to air pollution as a serious health problem

- Phasing out coal for electricity generation would improve air quality and health and reduce carbon emissions

“The Unpaid Health Bill - How coal power plants in the Western Balkans make us sick” puts the costs to health from existing coal plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina at up to 3.1 EUR billion per year representing one third of the total costs from this source in the Western Balkan region.

The calculation of health costs directly related to air pollution from coal-fired electricity plants takes into account premature deaths, respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, new cases of chronic bronchitis and lower respiratory problems, medication use and days of restricted activity due to ill-health, including lost working days. The costs, which are paid by individuals and governments and not by the coal industry, include both health costs for the Western Balkans as well as for the European region because wind carries pollutants across national borders.

Using coal to create electricity adds very significantly to air pollution, which is a major health risk in the Western Balkans. Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to three of the 10 most polluting coal-fired power stations in Europe. (4) The Ugljevik plant is the most polluting plant in Europe for emissions from sulphur dioxide (SO2) followed by the Kakanj and Tuzla plants. Sulphur dioxide is of particular concern for health because it reacts in the atmosphere to form particulate matter, which causes a range of health impacts.

“Our new report quantifies the huge damage to health associated coal power plants both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in other countries of the Western Balkan region,” says Vlatka Matkovic Puljic, Health and Energy Officer, Balkans Region, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). “We hope that the findings will encourage the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to reconsider national energy plans for coal and lignite and to increase investment in wind and solar power alternatives.”

The combination of coal and other exhaust from industrial, transport and domestic sources in the air robs countries of health and prosperity. Figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show the economic cost of early deaths from air pollution in Bosnia and Herzegovina at 21.5% of national GDP compared with 4.5% in Germany. Bosnia and Herzegovina experiences episodes of poor air quality which last several months.

“Higher levels of air pollution result in more asthma attacks and an increase in hospital admissions for lung and heart problems,” states Professor Dr. Zehra Dizdarević, a pneumologist. “Patients with asthma and other respiratory problems suffer greatly during smog episodes. Children with breathing conditions cannot play outside and may not be able to go to school. Some adults may be prevented from going to work because of the air pollution and older people are more likely to need hospitalisation."

Source: HEAL

 

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