Hot summer – high ozone pollution

Unusually high temperatures this summer have contributed to poor air quality in many European cities. Thresholds to protect health from ground-level ozone have been exceeded across Europe, according to preliminary data reported to the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Ozone pollution has serious effects on health, especially for older people and children, or those with asthma and other respiratory problems. More than 98 per cent of the total EU urban population are potentially exposed to ozone levels above the World Health Organization guidelines for protecting health. Reducing ozone pollution in the air depends on cutting the ‘precursor air pollutants’ that lead to ozone formation.

July this year was hotter than usual with warmer than average temperatures across most of Central and Western Europe. In the first half of July, ozone concentrations exceeding the EU’s Information Threshold occurred mainly in northern Italy, Spain and southern France, but by the second half of the month similarly high pollutant concentrations were also found in parts of northern Europe. Ozone exceeded these limits in the Paris area and in the Netherlands, Belgium and western Germany. At the end of the month most of the exceedances were registered in northern Italy, with high values occasionally occurring also in the Central European region.

Source: EEA press release, 14 August 2013

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