Harmful air pollutants strike Europeans
A new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that many parts of Europe have persistent problems with outdoor concentrations of airborne particulate matter (PM) and ground-level ozone. Almost a third of Europe’s city dwellers are exposed to excessive concentrations of PM.
In 2010, one fifth of the urban population was exposed to PM10 levels higher than the EU daily limit value designed to safeguard health. Some 90-95 per cent of urban dwellers were exposed to PM2.5 concentrations that exceed the (stricter) reference values set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the protection of human health.
Ozone can cause respiratory health problems and lead to premature mortality. Exposure in cities is very high – 97 per cent of EU urban inhabitants were exposed to ozone concentrations above the WHO reference level in 2010. Moreover, in 2009, 22 per cent of arable land in Europe was exposed to damaging concentrations of ozone, leading to agricultural losses.