Report shows that European population exposure to air pollutants still at unsafe levels
Around 430,000 premature deaths in Europe every year can still be attributed to air pollution, a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) has found.
Released this week (30 November), the ‘Air quality in Europe 2015 report’ examines the European population’s exposure to air pollutants and provides a snapshot of air quality based on monitoring stations across Europe in 2012.
It discovered that most city dwellers on the continent continued to be exposed to air pollutants at levels deemed unsafe by the World Health Organisation (WHO). in 2012 at a level similar to previous years.
Health impact estimates associated with long-term exposure to PM 2.5 show that this pollutant was responsible for 432 000 premature deaths in Europe in 2012, a level similar to that estimated in previous years.
The estimated impacts of NO2 and O3 exposure were around 75 000 and 17 000 premature deaths respectively. The report also provides estimates of premature deaths at country level.
Air pollutants also have a significant harmful impact on plant life and ecosystems. These problems, including eutrophication caused by ammonia (NH3) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), as well as damage caused by O3 to plants, are still widespread across Europe according to the report.
EEA executive director Hans Bruyinckx, said that poor air quality continued to be a drain on life expectancy and the economy.
He said: “Despite continuous improvements in recent decades, air pollution is still affecting the general health of Europeans, reducing their quality of life and life expectancy.
“It also has considerable economic impacts, increasing medical costs and reducing productivity through working days lost across the economy.â€?
The European report follows news earlier his week that NGO ClientEarth has launched what they claim to be the largest ever wave of air pollution lawsuits against a number of federal states in Germany (see airqualitynews.com story).
And in the UK, ClientEarth also threatened to take the government to court unless ‘drastic and fundmanetal changes’ are made to Defra’s new air quality plan.