EU funds help Kosovo fight unhealthy air pollution

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A mask covers the mouth and nose of the St. Mother Theresa with a child statue during smog and heavy air pollution in Kosovo capital Pristina, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

PRISTINA – The European Union is investing more than 80 million euros ($89 million) to improve the air quality in Kosovo, whose capital of Pristina is choking from pollution by coal-based power plants, coal and wood heating in homes and old vehicles on the roads.

Luigi Brusa of the European Union office in Kosovo on Friday said during the last few days the air in Pristina was like that of Beijing, considered one of the most polluted cities in the world.

The U.S. embassy's air quality monitor has shown PM2.5 pollution levels higher than 50, considered the maximum level accepted, rising up to 213 on Sunday.

School children on Friday wore masks when walking to schools in the foggy capital.

To highlight the problems, air masks were also put on statutes of Mother Teresa and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Nysrete Doda, a Pristina resident walking her child to school, said even the air in her home was bad because she had forgotten to close a window overnight.

“It is better that children and old people do not go out of home, but they (children) have to,” she complained.

Smoke from the Kosova B power plant in Obiliq, 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Pristina create a regular cloud over the capital.