A third of urban Europeans exposed to polluted air: EU

Sep 24, 2012
Nearly a third of Europe's urban population is exposed to air particles that breach European Union limits.

Nearly a third of Europe's urban population is exposed to air particles that breach European Union limits, an official report said Monday.

The figure more than triples if a UN health benchmark is used.

In 2010, 21 percent of residents of European towns and cities breathed air with concentrations of so-called PM10 fine particles that breached the most stringent daily EU limits, the (EEA) said.

PM10 are particles that are 10 micrometres, or 10 millionths of a metre (0.0004 of an inch) across.

But more dangerous are PM2.5 particles, which are four times smaller and able to lodge deep into the lungs and even cross into the bloodstream.

On this score, around 30 percent of urban dwellers were exposed to PM2.5 levels that were above EU levels, which are based on an annual measure rather than a daily one, the EAA said.

By the yardstick of the higher air-quality standards set by the UN's (WHO), 81 percent of urban residents were exposed to excessive levels of PM10 particles and 95 percent to excessive levels of PM 2.5, the EEA.

The particles are contained chiefly in gases in towns and cities, and industrialised regions of central and eastern Europe had the highest readings.

The good news is that emissions of "primary" PM10 and PM2.5—particles released directly into the air, as opposed to indirectly—decreased by 15 percent between 2001 and 2010.

"European Union policy has reduced emissions of many pollutants over the last decade, but we can go further," said the EEA's executive director, Jacqueline McGlade.

"In many countries, air pollutant concentrations are still above the legal and recommended limits that are set to protect the health of . In fact, reduces human life expectancy by around two years in the most polluted cities and regions."

Explore further: Climate change report identifies 'the most vulnerable'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hong Kong begins monitoring fine particle pollution

Mar 08, 2012

The Hong Kong government on Thursday began releasing hourly readings of the smallest, most dangerous pollution particles, as it bowed to public pressure for greater transparency about air quality.

'Off the scale' smog grounds flights in Beijing

Jan 10, 2012

More than 150 flights to and from Beijing were cancelled or delayed on Tuesday as a thick cloud of acrid smog shrouded the city, with US figures saying the pollution was so bad it was off the scale.

China orders more accurate air-quality measure

Feb 29, 2012

China's cabinet ordered on Wednesday new air-quality standards to measure the most dangerous form of particulate matter, following a public outcry over worsening air pollution.

Two-thirds of China's cities fail on air standards

Mar 02, 2012

(AP) -- Two-thirds of China's cities currently fail to meet stricter air quality standards that the government wants to phase in over four years to combat notoriously smoggy skies, a senior Chinese environmental ...

Beijing air pollution soars with fireworks smoke

Jan 29, 2012

(AP) -- Clouds of smoke from Lunar New Year fireworks sent air pollution readings soaring in the more sensitive measurement system Beijing started using a little more than a week ago, reports said Sunday.

Beijing to get rid of 1,200 polluting enterprises

May 09, 2012

Authorities in Beijing said Wednesday they plan to get rid of 1,200 high-polluting enterprises by 2015 to improve air quality in the Chinese capital, one of the world's most polluted cities.

Recommended for you

Climate change report identifies 'the most vulnerable'

11 minutes ago

Extreme weather events leave populations with not enough food both in the short- and the long-term. A new report by the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at the School of Geography and the Environment ...

Obama readies climate change push at UN summit

3 hours ago

President Barack Obama will seek to galvanize international support in the fight against climate change on Tuesday when he addresses the United Nations, with time running out on his hopes of leaving a lasting ...

New toxic spill traced to Mexico mine

3 hours ago

Civil protection authorities have confirmed new toxic spills in northwestern Mexico, where a massive acid spill from a copper mine contaminated waterways.

World greenhouse emissions threaten warming goal

17 hours ago

Emissions of greenhouse gases are rising so fast that within one generation the world will have used up its margin of safety for limiting global warming to 2°C (3.6°F), an international team of scientists ...

User comments : 0