Air pollution still poses health hazard in Europe
Around 90% of people who live in cities in the European Union (EU) are exposed to air pollutants at levels deemed harmful to health by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The result comes from the latest assessment of air quality in Europe, 'Air quality in Europe - 2013 report', just published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Despite falling emission levels and reductions of some air pollutant concentrations in recent decades, the report highlights the fact that Europe's air pollution problem is far from solved. Two specific pollutants, particulate matter and ground-level ozone, continue to be a source of breathing problems, cardiovascular disease and shortened lives.
Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director, commented: "Air pollution is causing damage to human health and ecosystems. Large parts of the population do not live in a healthy environment, according to current standards. To get on to a sustainable path, Europe will have to be ambitious and go beyond current legislation."
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.
Some rural areas also have significant levels of air pollution, the report notes.
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