SKOPJE /TIRANA /PRISTINA – The levels of pollution in the capitals of the republics in the Western Balkans are extremely high. The investigation looks at the causes of this situation as well as the health problems that air pollution leads to.

Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia in the Western Balkans, is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Almost the same situation is in the neighbouring countries: Albania and Kosovo*.

People living in this area are struggling to find some clean air.  In the last report of 2021 from the European Environmental Agency (EEA) around 5.580 Macedonian citizens died due to air pollution, 5410 citizens in Albania and 3430 in Kosovo.

During the investigation the team confirmed that the main sources of air pollution are the old vehicles, bad quality of the fuel, households burning varnished wood and plastic to be warm during winter, construction sites and power plants.

The main pollutants that are found in the three countries are mainly PM2.5 and PM10, NO2 and ozone. Researching on the ground, our team in Skopje found out that the level of PM2.5 particles in one spot of the city was 152 times above the annual permissible value, set by the World Health Organization. 

From the European institutions we confirmed that Albania has not reported air quality data since 2019, when only measurements from one PM2.5 monitoring station were reported. For the rest of the main air pollutants, there are no reported data since, at least, 2017. In Kosovo, the main sources of pollution are considered the use of coal and vehicular traffic. 562,425 cars are registered in the country, 108,975 of which are produced before 1990.


Team members

Elona Elezi

Elona Elezi (Albania) has worked as a journalist in South Eastern Europe since 2006.

Elona Elezi

Aleksandar Metodijev

Aleksandar Metodijev is a journalist based both in the German city of Bonn and the Macedonian capital of Skopje.

Aleksandar Metodijev

Esmeralda Topi

Esmeralda Topi (Albania) is a journalist with 10 years of experience in visual and written media.

Esmeralda Topi

Vjosa Çerkini

Vjosa Çerkini is a journalist and international documentary filmmaker from Pristina, Kosovo.

Vjosa Çerkini

Suzana Miceva

Suzana Miceva is a journalist and editor based in North Macedonia.

Suzana Miceva
€26,400 allocated on 23/05/2023



  • Albania
  • Kosovo
  • North Macedonia


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