High ozone levels in Europe
The EU long-term objective to protect human health from ozone damage was exceeded in all EU member states and in most of the other reporting European countries at least once during summer 2010, according to a new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA). As in previous years, the most widespread high concentrations occurred in the Mediterranean area. However, areas of western and central Europe experienced higher ozone concentrations than in 2009.
Ozone is not directly emitted into the atmosphere but formed in complex photochemical reactions from ozone precursor air pollutants (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, methane and non-methane volatile organic compounds). Its production depends on meteorological conditions such as solar intensity and temperature. Elevated levels of ground-level ozone reduce agricultural crop yields and corrode infrastructure and cultural heritage. It can also cause health problems and lead to premature deaths.
Preliminary results show that 17 EU countries are facing difficulties in meeting the target value for protecting human health. In all these countries, the maximum daily eight-hour mean ozone concentration of 120 µg/m3 was exceeded on more than 25 days during summer 2010.
Levels of ozone in Europe are influenced by local emissions as well as by emissions in other northern hemisphere countries and by poorly regulated sectors such as international shipping and aviation. Thus, ozone pollution is not only a local air quality issue but also a hemispheric and global problem.
The report "Air pollution by ozone across Europe during summer 2010"
Source: EEA press release, 6 June 2011.