Katowice, Poland in November 2017. Domestic coal heating is one reason for having one of the highest levels of PM2.5 in Europe. Photo: Astrid Westvang - Flickr.com/CC BY-NC-ND

New city PM pollution atlas

A new report entitled “Urban PM2.5 Atlas – Air quality in European cities” and produced by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) provides information on the levels and origins of fine particulate matter PM2.5 in the air of 150 European cities. It is designed to help cities produce effective air quality plans.

Excessive levels of PM2.5 are responsible for about 400,000 premature deaths every year in the EU, and millions of citizens suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases caused by air pollution.

Nearly all 150 cities have annual mean PM2.5 levels above the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 10 µg/m3. The cities with the highest pollution are located in southern Poland, the Italian Po Valley and Bulgaria. In 2015, the annual average PM2.5 levels in Katowice, Kraków, Ostrava, Częstochowa, Plovdiv, Sofia, Łódź, Kielce, Poznań and Brescia were above the EU’s limit value of 25 µg/m3.

The main sources of the PM2.5 pollution in city air are emissions from residential heating, transportation (primarily diesel engines), industry and agriculture. PM2.5 in ambient air originates both from primary particles emitted directly into the air and from secondary particles produced as a result of chemical reactions of PM precursor pollutants, namely sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Recent research has shown that PM2.5 concentrations can be considerably reduced by additional cuts in agricultural NH3 emissions. Depending on meteorological conditions, PM2.5 can remain in the air for several days and may thus be transported hundreds and even thousands of kilometres by winds.

The Atlas provides a detailed analysis of the sources of particulate matter for each of the 150 cities. It ranks the sectors that contribute most to air pollution and indicates the share of pollution emanating from local, national and European sources.

Link to JRC and the report: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/air-quality-atlas-europe-mapping-source...


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