PM10 particle levels were very high in a number of Macedonian cities this morning, with worst results recorded in Bitola, where the concentration amounted to 91 micrograms per cubic meter.

Tetovo, Skopje’s eastern and central districts and Kocani also had exceptionally high levels of soot and other particles caused mostly by burning of wood and coal for heating.

The Government, meanwhile was in defensive mode in the past few days, with Environment Minister Naser Nuredini insisting that the levels are not high enough to warrant introduction of restrictions on traffic or other measures. Skopje Mayor Petre Silegov also insisted that the air is cleaner than before, falsely claiming that concentrations haven’t gone above 100 micrograms this winter yet.

Meanwhile, the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party is demanding answers from the Government over the large scale import of the exceptionally dirty petroleum coke and colored textiles, and fingers are being pointed at the Skopje cement factory USJE.