Monday, November 4, 2013

How Well is Europe Doing in 2013 to Improve Its Air Quality?

Air quality in Europe — 2013 report(112 page pdf, European Environment Agency, Oct. 15, 2013)

Also discussed here: Air pollution still harming health across Europe(European Environment Agency, Oct. 15, 2013)

And here: Air pollution country fact sheets(Fact sheets for 33 EEA member countries, European Environment Agency, Oct. 15, 2013)

And here: Bulgaria’s Air Is Dirtiest in Europe, Study Finds, Followed by Poland(Danny Hakim, New York Times, Oct. 15, 2013)

Today we review a report from the European Union on the progress being made to reduce air pollution in the states that make up the EU over the last decade. Long term health targets were selected to reduce the loss of life expectancy by 47% from exposure to PM and 10% less deaths from exposure to O3. While the levels overall for all pollutants have decreased, they do not yet meet the targets set and in particular over 90% of urban dwellers breath air with PM 2.5 and O3 that exceed guidelines.

 eu pop over guidelines
Percentage of the EU urban population exposed to air pollution exceeding EU air quality standards  

Key Quotes:

“Between 2009 and 2011, up to 96 % of city dwellers were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations above WHO guidelines and up to 98 % were exposed to ozone (O3) levels above WHO guidelines.”

“emissions of nitrogen oxides and ammonia have fallen by 27 % and 7 % respectively since 2002. However, emissions were not reduced as much as anticipated, with eight EU Member States breaching legal ceilings a year after the deadline for compliance.”

“When you put on a washed white shirt and take a walk for a couple of hours in Sofia, when you come back you can see that the collar and the front have a yellow-gray hue,”

“PM emissions from fuel combustion in the commercial, institutional and household sector, has increased by around 7 % since 2002. This sector is now the most important contributor to total European Union PM emissions.”

“Between 41 % and 49 % of the urban population in EEA-32 countries was exposed to PM10 concentrations in excess of the daily limit value in the same period..”

“Between 14 % and 65 % (4) of the EU urban population was exposed to O3 concentrations above the EU target value for protecting human health in the period 2002–2011”

“Some cities in Europe show an increase in concentrations of NO2 measured close to traffic. This reflects the increasing numbers of newer diesel vehicles. Such vehicles emit less CO and NMVOCs than petrol vehicles, but may emit more PM and NO2.”

“long‑term environmental objectives for improvements in 2020 relative to the situation in 2000:
  • a 47 % reduction in loss of life expectancy as a result of exposure to PM
  • a 10 % reduction in acute mortalities from exposure to O3;”
“key emissions would have to fall significantly in the period 2000–2020:
  • SO2 emissions to decrease by 82 %;
  • NOX emissions to decrease by 60 %;
  • VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions to decrease by 51 %;
  • NH3 emissions to decrease by 27 %;
  • Primary PM2.5 (fine particles emitted directly into the air) to decrease by 59 %.”
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