Despite slow improvements, air pollution continues to exceed European Union and World Health Organization limits and guidelines, putting human health and the environment at risk, according to the ‘Air quality in Europe — 2018 report’ released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) today.
Updated estimates in the report indicate that concentrations of PM2.5 were responsible for about 422,000 premature deaths in 41 European countries in 2015, of which around 391,000 were in the 28 EU Member States. The report points to about 25,000 such premature deaths in Romania (25,400 more precisely). Past and current policies and technology advances have led to slow but steady progress in reducing these negative impacts, the EEA also warns.
A wider assessment included in this year’s report, looking back to 1990, shows that premature deaths due to PM2.5 have been cut by about half a million premature deaths per year. This is due to the implementation of European air quality policies and the introduction of measures at national and local level which have led, for example, to cleaner cars, industry and energy.
“Air pollution is an invisible killer and we need to step up our efforts to address the causes. In terms of air pollution, road transport emissions are often more harmful than those from other sources, as these happen at ground level and tend to occur in cities, close to people. That is why it is so important that Europe redoubles its efforts to reduce emissions caused by transport, energy and agriculture and invest in making them cleaner and more sustainable,” said EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx.
Road transport is one of the main air pollution sources in Europe, particularly the noxious pollutants, such as PM2.5 (particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less) and Nitrogen dioxide and NO2. Most affected by the air pollution are city residents.
Emissions from agriculture, energy production, industry and households also contribute to the air pollution.
Air pollution is also negatively impacting economy, by reducing the life span, increasing the healthcare costs and curbing the economy productivity due to the working hours that are lost due to medical problems. Not to mention, the negative impact on the ecosystems, for degrading the spils, forests, lakes and rivers and for reducing the agricultural production.