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Air pollution still harming health across Europe

Oct 21, 2013 | News

(21 October 2013) – Around 90% of city dwellers in the EU are exposed to one of the most damaging air pollutants at levels deemed harmful to health by the World Health Organization. This result comes from the latest assessment of air quality in Europe, published by the European Environment Agency.

Vehicles, industry, agriculture and homes are contributing to air pollution in Europe. Despite falling emission levels and reductions of some air pollutant concentrations in recent decades, the ‘Air quality in Europe – 2013 report’ demonstrates that Europe’s air pollution problem is far from solved.

Between 2009 and 2011, up to 96% of city dwellers were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations above World Health Organization guidelines and up to 98% were exposed to ozone (O3) levels above WHO guidelines.

It is not just cities – some rural areas also have significant levels of air pollution, the report notes. National differences across Europe are presented in a series of country fact-sheets accompanying the main findings.

Alongside health concerns, the report also highlights environmental problems such as eutrophication, which is when excessive nutrient nitrogen damages ecosystems, threatening biodiversity. Eutrophication is still a widespread problem that affects most European ecosystems.

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