Sarajevo Historic Air Pollution and Air Pollution Sources Data

For the next few months I will be living in Sarajevo and working on a project to do with air pollution in the region. This project will involve the building of some sensors to measure some concentrations of air pollution, as well as helping out with the development of a live map that people will be able to monitor Bosnian air pollution in real time. To get a better understanding of the topic, I did some quite extensive research and developed some interactive charts to convey this research.

Air pollution in Sarajevo has been a hot button topic within Bosnia and Herzegovina for a number of years. Restrictions on driving cars within the city have been enforced in the past, and World Health Organisation statistics have identified Bosnia and Herzegovina as one of the most polluted countries in Europe . The causes, trends, and solutions of this air pollution issue in Sarajevo are often not fully understood by the wider public and media within the region. Historic air pollution data exists, although it is not widely published beyond non-publicised government reports and is formatted in a hard-to-read fashion. I hope that by compiling various data sources relating to air pollution in Sarajevo, it will be useful for someone down the track.

Historic Causes of Air Pollution in Sarajevo

In the 1970’s, the Yugoslavian government in partnership with The World Bank funded the Sarajevo Air Pollution Control Project in an attempt to reduce pollution levels before the 1984 Winter Olympics. They identified several natural and man made factors that contributed to air pollution at the time. The air flow impeding valley like topography of Sarajevo combined with the typical climate of the region promotes a climatic phenomenon called temperature inversion. Temperature inversions have a tendency to trap air pollution at ground level for extended periods of time. The heating systems utilised in Sarajevo at the time used fuels known for causing heavy pollution such as wood, lignite coal (brown coal), coke, and fuel oil. This caused significant air pollution in the winter months. This air pollution in the atmosphere would be exacerbated by instances of temperature inversion, ensuring the pollution would linger within the city for extended periods of time. Finally, significant industry existed within the city which added to the already existing pollution. At the conclusion of the project, natural gas was widely adopted as a heating fuel among city and pollution levels dropped significantly.

In the post war period, The World Bank funded the Emergency District Heating Reconstruction Project in order to repair damaged district heating infrastructure within the Sarajevo region. This project provided “fuel-switch” capability to much of the district heating infrastructure in Sarajevo, allowing the usage of both natural gas and fuel oils as heating fuels. This was done in order to increase post-war energy security within Sarajevo.

Current Causes of Air Pollution in Sarajevo

The current causes of air pollution in Sarajevo have not changed significantly from the past, although according to government air pollution reports, air pollution within Sarajevo has decreased significantly in the post-war period. Industrial output is widely acknowledged to have not returned to pre-war levels, and therefore is less of an issue in regards to air pollution as it was in the past. Car ownership has significantly increased since the 1990’s, adding a new problematic source of pollution within the city.

Historic Air Pollution Data in Sarajevo Kanton

Mobile Data

The above interactive chart contains all air pollution data that is currently available from online and published government sources. Data can be highlighted based on the pollution station it was measured from by clicking on drop pins via the map, as well as by clicking on the station names listed in the adjacent table. Different pollution sources can be selected by clicking one of the 5 red buttons located above the first chart. Statistical data can be displayed separately on the second chart to clicking one of the 3 blue buttons located bellow the chart. By analysing this data, statistical conclusions can be drawn about air pollution in the Sarajevo region over the last ten years.

Statistical conclusions

The annual average concentration of particulate pollution with a particle diameter between 2.5 and 10μm, otherwise known as PM10, has not significantly decreased within the Sarajevo region. This annual average concentration of PM10 is routinely above the maximum 40µg/m3 concentration allowed by Bosnian and EU regulations. Depending on the station, PM10 exceedances of 50µg/m3 over a 24 hour period continue to occur between 40 to 100 days on an annual basis in contravention of Bosnian and EU regulations.

Annual Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) emissions appear to be decreasing over the long term, with levels recorded being significantly less than that of the measurements taken in the pre-war period. Despite this, a small number of exeedances of 125µg/m3 over a 24 hour period still occur at a number of stations throughout Sarajevo on an annual basis.

Like SO2 emissions, annual Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) emissions over the long term appear to be decreasing, however annual peak values are increasing. The pollution station located in Otoka is consistently recording an annual average concentration exceeding of 40µg/m3 in contravention of Bosnian and EU regulations. Exeedances of 200µg/m3 over a 1 hour period still occur at a number of stations in the region on an annual basis.

Ozone (O3) pollution has been rising in recent years throughout Sarajevo. A large number of exeedances of 120µg/m3 over an 8 hour period occur at a number of pollution stations located throughout Sarajevo.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) pollution over the long term appears to be decreasing within the Sarajevo region, however not enough data exists in order to make a statistical conclusion. In the past the pollution station located in Otoka has recorded over 10 exeedances of 10mg/m3 over an 8 hour period.

Data Sources

Bosnian historic air pollution data sources are scattered across multiple online departments, sites, and portals. Due to this, I concentrated on available data from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity.

Government reports generated by the Federal Hydrometeorological Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FHMZBIH), have been published from the period of 2003-2008 as well as for 2009, 2010, and 2011. However, the reports written during this period were often lacking tabular and statistical results making the contained data difficult to use. The online location of these reports also appears to be on a non-publicised section of the FHMZBIH website, making them hard to locate. The data used to generate these FHMZBIH reports from the period of 2003-2012 is also published on the EEAs Eionet Centreal Data Repository under the since terminated EoI data reporting obligations that Bosnia and Herzegovina participated in. However this data is only available in convoluted and non-documented database formats which are difficult and time consuming to navigate. Fortunately, formatted statistical data derived from these 2003-2012 databases has been published along with other European air pollution data through the so called “Airbase”, a now superseded European air quality database. It is the statistical data contained in these releases that was used for the years of 2003-2012 in the above interactive chart.

No government report was generated for 2012 and 2013, and no data from 2013 appears to be available at all. However FHMZBIH government reports exist for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. The format of FHMZBIH government reports since 2014 have improved significantly, with tabulated monthly and annual statistical data available, albeit in difficult to extract PDF format. Data from these reports was used in the above interactive chart for the years following 2014.

The formatted data used to generate this chart can be downloaded using the Data link located underneath the interactive chart. The chart can be embedded in other websites using the Mobile link located in the same position.

Improving Air Pollution Data Availability

In order to improve the availability of air pollution data in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in addition to the publication of government reports all available historic daily, monthly, and annual air pollution data should be published in an easy to use format such as CSV in a central repository. Ideally this would include air pollution data obtained during the pre-war and post-war periods. The availability of this data would make it easier for institutions and individuals from Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad to access and study this air pollution data, enabling them to contribute to the discussion around the issues that Bosnia and Herzegovina faces with air pollution. The online availability of FHMZBIH generated government reports should also be located in a centreralised location.

Other Notes on Available Data

While the data that can be currently found online is useful for analysing the trends of air pollution in Sarajevo, some inconsistencies can be observed. For annual air pollution statistics to be valid, The Federal Hydrometeorological Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FHMZBIH) has informed me that according to Bosnian and EU regulations at least 90% of hourly measurements should be valid on an annual basis, or at least 75% of hourly measurements should be valid if the gaps in valid data are evenly distributed during the year. This annualised data does not take this in to account, and therefore not all the data may be valid in a regulatory sense.

Historic Data on Causes of Air Pollution

In order to gain a greater understanding around some of the trends in air pollution within Sarajevo, data was gathered and interactive charts were developed to further analyse trends in some of the causes of air pollution in the region. This data pertains to the types of fuels used in district heating systems within Bosnia and Herzegovina, and traffic data from Sarajevo Kanton.

District Heating Fuel Usage in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mobile Data
The above interactive chart contains all district heating fuel usage data that is currently available from online and published government sources. The data can be viewed as a percentage of the heat produced, and as a quantity of the fuel used by clicking on 1 of the 2 red buttons. By analysing this data, broad conclusions can be drawn about the effect the heating fuel usage mix has had on air pollution in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unfortunately no data is currently available online in regards to district heating fuel usage in the Sarajevo Kanton alone, therefore one must keep this in mind when trying to draw conclusions on the affect this data might have on air pollution data within the Sarajevo region.

Statistical conclusions

In the last decade, the heating fuel mix used in district heating system within Bosnia and Herzegovina has dramatically changed. Distillate fuel oil usage over the decade has declined by over 85%. This dramatic change was largely offset by a 500% increase wood and wood waste fuels, as well as a slight increase in the usage of residual fuel oils. Natural gas usage has also slightly declined over the last decade.

Wood and wood waste fuels generally produce larger amounts of particulate pollution such as PM10 than other heating fuels such as natural gas. Residual fuel oils have higher a sulfur content than distillate fuel oils, and therefore generally produce more air pollution. Natural gas is generally considered one of the cleaner fuels when used for heating purposes.

Data Sources

Government reports generated by the Agency for Statistics of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHAS) that contain information regarding district heating fuel usage have been published for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. In order to convert fuel quantities to a heat produced percentage I used the EPA’s published Miscellaneous Data and Conversion Factors document, and caculated total percentages based on those results.

The formatted data used to generate this chart can be downloaded using the Data link located underneath the interactive chart. The chart can be embedded in other websites using the Mobile link located in the same position.

Improving District Heating Fuel Usage Data Availability and Usefulness

In order to improve the usefulness of district heating fuel usage data in Bosnia and Herzegovina in regards to its correlation with air pollution, data on fuel usage should be available on a Kanton by Kanton level. The data should also be published in an easy to use format such as CSV in a single document. The online availability of BHAS generated government reports should also be located in a centreralised and easy to find location.

Historic Vehicle Usage Data in Sarajevo Kanton

Mobile Data

The above interactive chart contains vehicle usage data within Sarajevo Kanton that is currently available from online and published government sources. The data can be viewed as of total number of kilometres traveled by vehicles in Sarajevo Kanton on a quarterly basis, or as the total number of vehicle registrations in Sarajevo Kanton on an annual basis by clicking on 1 of the 2 red buttons. The data is simply the number of kilometers driven by passenger and commercial vehicles with Sarajevo Kanton on a quarterly basis. By analysing this data, board conclusions can be drawn about the effect traffic may have had on air pollution in Sarajevo Kanton.

Statistical conclusions

The kilometres traveled within Sarajevo Kanton over the past decade have gradually been increasing by around 1% on an annual basis. Vehicle transportation is a known emitter of CO and particulate matter, therefore this increase in the kilometres traveled within Sarajevo Kanton is likely to be partly responsible for the persisting levels of PM10 and CO within metropolitan Sarajevo. Registrations of vehicles have increased by around 20% in a linear fashion over the last 8 years, indicating that it is unlikely that the number of kilometres traveled by vehicles in Sarajevo Kanton will decrease in the near future.

Data Sources

Quarterly vehicle statistics as well as annual registration statistics are available from Sarajevo Kanton’s Department of Informatics and Statistics

The formatted data used to generate this chart can be downloaded using the Data link located underneath the interactive chart. The chart can be embedded in other websites using the Mobile link located in the same position.

Improving Vehicle Usage Data Availability and Usefulness

In order to improve the usefulness of vehicle usage data in Bosnia and Herzegovina in regards to its correlation with air pollution, all historic and current data on vehicle usage should be published in an easy to use format such as CSV in a single document.

Conclusions

Air pollution within the Sarajevo region is a pressing issue that should not be ignored. During the winter months, concentrations of various pollutants such as PM10, SO2, NO2, and O3 often exceed Bosnian and EU regulations, confirming that air pollution is a public health concern that is impacting the lives of residents of Sarajevo. By viewing the data available in these interactive charts, worrying trends in district heating fuel and vehicle usage within Sarajevo Kanton can be observed. Positive steps are being taken regarding the usage of fuel oils and coal with heavy sulfur contents, however as significant contributors to air pollution within Sarajevo, further action should be taken to reverse these trends.

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