As air pollution worsens in North Macedonia, the country’s government announced on Saturday that it will be implementing a wide-ranging amount of emergency measures to reduce the amount of damage that could occur to people exposed to the high levels of air pollution.

Starting on Monday, the government has implemented new rules that would prevent, for example, the staging of sports events or other outdoor activities on Sundays or on days where pollution is at the highest, according to the Associated Press.

The government has also promised to reduce the use of its own vehicles by half, and has lessened hours of outdoor construction work to a six-hour period from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; expanding on this, they have also asked companies to excuse pregnant and elderly people from working or going to the office, ABC News reported.

North Macedonia has had a reputation as being one of Europe’s most polluted countries, largely due to the widespread use of wood-burning stoves during the winter, as well as the usage of incineration in their garbage disposal. The current energy crisis that Europe is facing has forced many in the country to return to the use of wood-burning stoves to survive the winter.

IQAir, a Swiss company specializing in air technology, said that the toxic PM10 and PM 2.5 particles in the country’s capital city Skopje was 28 times higher than the ones in the average safe threshold given by the World Health Organization, which makes the capital city the third most polluted in the world after Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and Lahore, Pakistan.

PM10 particles are typically smaller than 10 micrometers and are reportedly coarse enough to irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, while the PM2.5 particles are able to lodge themselves through the lungs and enter the bloodstream of a person.

The new measures, which will be implemented in the capital city as well as three other cities in the country, was announced after environmental groups were able to successfully lobby their inclusion as a way for the government to take action on the pollution levels.

North Macedonia Pollution Rep. Pic
The North Macedonia government has implemented emergency measures on Saturday to reduce the amount of human damage the increasing amounts of air pollution in the country's cities. This is a representational image. Jacek Dylag/Unsplash.

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