The sources and levels of air pollution in Europe have been mapped
The Air Quality Atlas for Europe, developed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), provides a detailed analysis of the sources of particulate matter (PM) for 150 European cities with a population density above 1,500/km2 and a population exceeding 50,000. The results have shown that the cities with the highest particulate pollution are located in Southern Poland, Bulgaria and the Italian Po Valley.
The report ranks the sectors that contribute most to air pollution and indicates the share of pollution emanating from local, national and European sources. According to the JRC, even though the air we breathe today is much cleaner than in the past, every year more than 400,000 citizens die prematurely in the EU as a result of poor air quality (more than ten-fold the number of deaths by road traffic accidents). Millions of others suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, while the total external health-related costs to society due to air pollution are estimated to be in the range of â‚¬330-940 billion per year.
The new European Air Quality Index has a user-friendly interactive map that shows the local air quality situation. Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM10), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ground-level ozone are the five main air pollutants, while the pollution sources originate mainly from different human activities, with transport, agriculture, industry and residential heating being responsible for the largest part.
Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said that "Air pollution is an invisible killer, so the Air Quality Index is needed to inform European citizens on the state of the air they breathe in their own neighbourhood. We are working with cities, regions, countries and industry to tackle the sources of that pollution, which is a cocktail coming from factories, homes and fields, not only from transport."
"In order to tackle air pollution we must first understand where it comes from. The Air Quality Atlas produced by the Joint Research Centre provides essential information on pollution sources for the European cities that are struggling with air quality. It will help cities to design air quality plans which focus on their most polluting activities.", said Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Commission's Joint Research Centre.
Source: European Commission