Albania’s air quality data unreliable, state auditors say

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 15, 2018 09:38

Albania’s air quality data unreliable, state auditors say

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  • “There are only seven air quality monitoring stations in the whole of Albania which monitor uninterruptedly, but two of them have been out of work for a two-year period. All these stations have not been accredited, some of them are uncalibrated, something which is a clear indicator of the low level of reliability the data represents," says the Supreme State Audit

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TIRANA, Feb. 15 – Albania’s few operational air quality monitoring stations lack accreditation and the data they produce are unreliable, an audit carried out by the country’s Supreme State Audit has found.

“Currently, the air quality results in Albania are not real as they are not all-inclusive. There are only seven air quality monitoring stations in the whole of Albania which monitor uninterruptedly, but two of them have been out of work for a two-year period. All these stations have not been accredited, some of them are uncalibrated, something which is a clear indicator of the low level of reliability the data represents,” says the Supreme State Audit.

“The values published on Tirana as well as other Albanian cities by the National Environment Agency’s mobile monitoring station are not representative as average values. The number of fixed air quality monitoring stations is also not sufficient to produce representative and reliable data on the respective cities,” adds the report.

Air pollution figures in Albania remain among the highest in Europe.

Tirana tops Albania’s air pollution city list, exceeding EU limits by up to two times, but the surprise second most polluted city is Korça, the biggest city in southeast Albania whose pollution is mainly seasonal due to massive burning of firewood for home heating during winter, according to the latest 2016 report by Albania’s National Environment Agency.

State auditors say the Albanian government has no concrete data on the consequences that air pollution has on human health and the environment. “No analysis has been carried out on the expectations of the air quality policies regarding the economic, social and environmental benefits,” says the report.

Pollution is punishable by fines and imprisonment of up to two and ten years in cases of severe consequences on human health, but only about a dozen people are investigated into and sentenced each year despite the widespread phenomenon ranging from plants operating without pollution filters to outdated lime kilns burning old tires.

The Supreme State Audit urges the government to approve a new national action plan on air quality within 2018 following the failure to take any action on a previous 2014 strategy and carry out the immediate accreditation of its air quality stations abroad considering that there are no licensed operators to conduct this process in Albania.

Monitoring has revealed PM10 particulates exceed the daily limit value of 50 micrograms/cubic meter (50 µg/m3) by 73 days in Tirana and by 65 days in Korça at a time when under EU standards the daily limit should not be exceeded on more than 35 days in a calendar year.

The situation is also problematic in Elbasan, central Albania, where the country’s largest steel plant operates.

About 2,120 people died in 2016 in Albania due to air pollution, of whom 2,010 were victims of high concentrations of fine particles in the air, 100 of the ozone concentration and 10 of nitrogen dioxide concentration, says a report by Denmark-based European Environment Agency, an EU watchdog.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 15, 2018 09:38