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on the environment

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Air pollution (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Why should we care about this issue

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the main sources of air pollution are stationary and include coal-power plants and industry. Large thermal energy (TE) facilities (TE Kakanj, TE Tuzla) have relatively a high content of sulphur. Even though these facilities are usually located in the vicinity of mines, equipped with tall stacks and modern filters for exhaust gases, they still emit considerable quantities of sulphur dioxide, whose emission is not regulated in BiH. 

In the current general economic recession, industrial facilities in BIH either work with lower capacity or are closed down completely. This has resulted in a decrease in harmful emissions to the atmosphere. On the other hand, pollution caused by local traffic is increasing. Railroads are electrified, but are still in the initial reconstruction stage, so all local transportation is carried out by road, characterised by a large number of old vehicles and low, unmonitored liquid fuel quality.

Local meteorological conditions, as well as topography, have a major impact on air quality in urban areas. Air quality is then strongly influenced by pollutants trapped due to thermal inversions.

Institutional organisation Air quality management is under the jurisdiction of entity ministries responsible for environment. Certain activities regarding air quality monitoring are carried out by the entity meteorological institutes. However, the monitoring quality assurance system has not yet been established in BiH.

Instruments Republika Srpska recently adopted a law on air protection, and until adoption of the same in the Federation of BiH, issues related to air quality in FBiH will be regulated by existing legislation on physical planning. The new framework law on air will be a good instrument for improvement of the situation in this field although important results will be achieved only after secondary legislation is drafted, and pollution charges are introduced. 

Tools Application of tools in air quality management in BiH is not well known. Spatial and urban planners do not sufficiently use emission cadastres and atmospheric distribution models to the extent necessary. Methodologies developed in BiH before the war are used for reporting to international organisations. These take into account local specificities (fuel quality, data collection capabilities). Whereas methodologies prescribed by international organisations (e.g. Corinair, IPCC) are currently being introduced. The following tools are used:

  •  DEM (Data Exchange Module) software adopted by the European Environment Agency – for AQ EOI Data.
  • Use of software that allows calculation of pollutant emissions into the air – namely CORINAIR methodology and Software: COLLECTER, COPERT, and REPORTER


The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Air pollutant concentrations

Most air pollutants come from industrial activities, but a significant quantity also from traffic. Industry was the most important polluter: this includes the steel industry in Zenica, thermal power plants in Kakanj, Tuzla, Ugljevik, and Gacko; cement factories in Kakanj and Tuzla; wood processing industry in Doboj and Maglaj; acetylene, chlorine, and chloric acid factory in Jajce; chemical, detergent, and fertilizer industry in Tuzla; and many more. Before the war, there were 122 industrial wastewater plants in BIH (only 40 % were operating properly). Currently none of these is working. Most industry collapsed during the war, and has not yet been restored to the pre-war levels. Therefore, pollution is much lower than before the war. An organised air quality monitoring exists in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Banjaluka, Kakanj and Brcko and data on the main air poillutants are available on the Internet through the Central Data Repository of Eionet

Figure 1. Percentage of urban population exposed to sulphur dioxide concentrations above the limit value for the daily mean (125 microgramme SO2/m3)












Figure2. Urban population exposed to nitrogen dioxide concentrations above











Average annual concentration of SO2 and black smoke - station Sarajevo

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Drivers and Pressure

The sources (causes) of air pollution in BiH are:

  • Combustion of fuels used in BiH;
  • Industrial processes (metallurgy, refineries);
  • Traffic;
  • Other sources (incineration, self-ignition of wastes…).

Excessive air pollution from combustion processes is the result of the nature of industry (large energy and metallurgy capacities, built for the needs of much of former Yugoslavia), and irrational use of energy in the total life cycle of products. Other causes are inappropriately constructed furnaces and boilers that were not designed for the specific types of coals that are used, non-existence of technologies for improvement of coals intended for small fireboxes and poor maintenance of power and industrial plants.

In the period up to 1992, the most important industrial sources of pollution were processes connected with the production of coke, iron and steel, aluminum and cement. Considering the air pollution, most of these industrial objects are not properly located. The largest number of plants, i.e. pollution sources, is located in the northeastern quadrant of BiH. The city of Zenica was developed adjacent to a steel complex. Cement factories in Kakanj and Lukavac are also located next to settlements. In these, and in many other cases, provision of protective distance from industrial objects was not taken into consideration.

Traffic, especially in urban areas, is a significant source of air pollution. In the urban centres the traffic (inadequate regulation, low speeds, frequent stop-and-go) endangers the health of the population, as it causes high emissions of pollutants. 

Emissions of SO2 and CO2 In spite of a low degree of industrialisation and urbanisation in BiH, emissions of SO2 in the atmosphere are very high. According to latest data from 1990, taking into account the quantity of emissions per capita. With regard to emissions of CO2, in spite of the high share of fossil fuels in energy production, specific emissions of CO2 in BiH are not high. This is a result of low overall energy consumption per capita.

Emissions of CO2 as compared to other countries


Groups of countries

Emissions per capita


Bosnia and Herzegovina (fossil fuels only)


OECD countries


Former socialist countries


Quality of fuels used BiH coals have low heat content (on average, two times lower than coals in Poland and the UK). Thermo-electric power plants use fractions of some of these coals with even lower heat content. Fuels used have a wide range of sulphur content which ranges from 0.23 % (Stanari) up to 5.30 % (Ugljevik and Čelebići). On the other hand, these coals have a high content of ash, while many have a high content of alkali components.

Energy-intensive economy The major cause of pollution in BiH lies in the sphere of energy and industry. At the same time, a specific characteristic is the energy intensive economy (in 1992 BiH was consuming almost 2.5 times more energy per unit of income than Croatia or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). One of the reasons is lack of industrial co-generation facilities, especially in urban zones where clean fuels are used (natural gas). These facilities are economically feasible. The new law on Electrical energy enables and stimulates this type of energy production.


Figure 4. Emission trends of acidifying pollutants










Figure 5. Emissions of acidifying pollutants by sectors











Figure 6. Emission of acidifying pollutants by sector - 2004











Figure 7. Emission trends for ozone precursors












Figure 8. Emissions of ozone precursors - 1990.











Figure 9. Emissions of ozone precursors by sector - 2004.












The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

The change in SO2 emissions between 1990 and 2010 is not projected in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, SO2 emissions in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been reduced by 30 to 40 %.

It must be kept in mind that this emission reduction is a result of undertaking the planned measures on emissions.

Reduction is a result of war devastation and destruction of industry in the war, which has not yet been brought back to its pre-war levels.

The situation is similar with emissions of NMVOC, NO2, and NH3.

There was a reduction in emissions (of which substance?), compared to 1990, by 30 to 40 %.

There are no estimates of the possible impacts of the above changes on the natural environment and human health.


Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

The main strategic goal of BiH, is active presence in international activities in reducing transboundary air pollution, protection of global climate, and reducing the local air pollution.

Measures required in order to achieve the above-mentioned goal are the following:

Institutional strengthening and capacity building, for activities in the domain of air pollution protection, especially for active participation in the programmes under the UN Convention and Kyoto Protocol;

  • Establishing a registry and database concerning emissions of acid and green house gases, including information about trends of local emissions and quantities of green house gases eliminated from the atmosphere by local absorbers (vegetation, forests…);
  • Exploration of the impact of altered air quality and climate change on human health, water resources, agriculture, forest ecosystems, biodiversity, energy production, transport, tourism and other economic activities which are directly dependent on climate change;
  • Investigation of the sensitivity of individual economic activities on acid deposits of climate changes and adaptation options on changing climate conditions on the territory of BiH;
  • Programme of stabilisation and gradual diminishing of acid and greenhouse gases by improving energy efficiency through technological restructuring, by better use of energy sources and by increased use of renewable energy sources (hydro, solar, wind and geothermal energy), and by revitalisation and upgrading forest ecosystems;
  • Improvement of information systems and adequate incorporation of BiH in existing systems (Eionet, World Meteorological Organization, etc…);
  • Introduction of issues such as emissions, changes of air quality and climatic changes in school curricula in environmental education; introduction of specialised courses at university level for energy, technology, meteorology and climatology; improvement of public awareness concerning these issues;

Step-by-step participation in climatic research and developing capabilities for application of modern methods for weather forecast and climate forecast in the scope of scientific programmes within the World Meteorological Organization, World Climate Research Programme and World Programme for research concerning atmosphere and environment.


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100