Air quality failing EU tests

11th November 2013


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Natural resources ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Water ,
  • EU ,
  • Ecosystems

Author

IEMA

Particulate matter and ground-level ozone continue to damage air quality across much of the EU despite falling emission levels and reductions of some air pollutant concentrations in recent decades

A new report from the European Environment Agency, found that between 2009 and 2011, up to 96% of city dwellers in Europe were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations above thresholds recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which are stricter than EU limits or targets.

The agency also reported that up to 98% of city inhabitants across EU member states were exposed to ozone levels above WHO guidelines.

These pollutants cause breathing problems and cardiovascular disease, and are shortening lives, says the agency. “Air pollution is causing damage to human health and ecosystems. To get on to a sustainable path, Europe will have to be ambitious and go beyond current legislation,” said Hans Bruyninckx, executive director at the agency.

The report also found that eutrophication – where nitrogen pollution sparks excessive plant growth, damaging ecosystems and threatening biodiversity – is still a widespread problem, affecting most European ecosystems.

This is despite some nitrogen-containing pollutants falling. Emissions of nitrogen oxides and ammonia, for example, have fallen by 27% and 7% respectively since 2002. The agency warns that further measures will be needed to reduce emissions of nitrogen and address eutrophication.

The latest air quality data from the government reveals that, in 2012, 34 of the 43 air quality zones in the UK breached the EU annual emissions limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) of 40 μg/m3. The figures were contained in air quality data recently submitted to the European Commission.

According to campaign group Clean Air in London, Scotland faces an air pollution crisis in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 after the figures revealed that Glasgow has the highest levels of NO2 outside London, at nearly twice legal limits.


Transform articles

Regulator publishes new code to tackle 'greenwashing'

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a new 'Green Claims Code' to ensure businesses are not misleading consumers about their environmental credentials.

22nd September 2021

Read more

The UK government must develop regulation to stop the financial sector from providing billions of pounds to companies that threaten rainforests worldwide, WWF has said.

10th September 2021

Read more

Over two million hectares of Brazilian rainforest could be legally converted to supply the UK with soy under a new anti-deforestation law proposed by the government, the WWF has found.

26th August 2021

Read more

The Better Business Act would put responsibility to society and the environment on the same footing as responsibility to shareholders, explains Chris Turner

30th July 2021

Read more

In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

30th July 2021

Read more

Thames Water has been fined £4m after untreated sewage escaped from sewers below London into a park and a river.

30th July 2021

Read more

In R. (on the application of Hudson) v Windsor and Maidenhead RBC, the appellant appealed against a decision to uphold the local authority’s grant of planning permission for the construction of a holiday village at the Legoland Windsor Resort.

28th May 2021

Read more

Are voluntary commitments enough to make the private sector act on waste? David Burrows explores the issues

28th May 2021

Read more

Government announcements on infrastructure reveal a direction of travel but key details are still unknown, says Huw Morris

29th January 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert