Europe to Tackle Air Pollution: Lowest Air Quality in Bulgaria

Written by | Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The health effects of air pollution have been underestimated and Europe should revisit its laws to deal with the problem, a report commissioned by the World Health Organization (WTO) concluded recently. Moreover, as a new study by the European Environment Agency (EEA) warns in its new study entitled ‘Air Quality in Europe – 2013’, around 90 % of city dwellers in the European Union (EU) are exposed to one of the most damaging air pollutants at levels deemed harmful to health by the World Health Organization (WHO), with Bulgaria having the dirtiest air among EU countries.
The WTO report, which was prepared by sixty international scientists, analyzed how minute specks of soot, gases such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and other pollutants from road and rail traffic, industry and indoor fires harm human health. In addition to premature deaths from respiratory and heart diseases, they found links to new conditions such as diabetes and still births and adverse effects on the cognitive development of children born to mothers exposed to even small levels of air pollution.
In addition to that, the EEA study warns of the large extent to which vehicles, industry, agriculture and homes are still contributing to air pollution in Europe. Although emission levels have been falling and some air pollutant concentrations have been reduced in recent decades, the report demonstrates that Europe’s air pollution problem is far from solved. Two specific pollutants, particulate matter and ground-level ozone, continue to be a source breathing problems, cardiovascular disease and shortened lives. New scientific findings show that human health can be harmed by lower concentrations of air pollution than previously thought.
Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director, said that “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.” Environment Commissioner Janez Poto?nik added that “air quality is a central concern for many people … [who] are asking public authorities to take action at EU, national and local levels, even in times of austerity and hardship. I am ready to respond to these concerns through the Commission’s upcoming Air Policy Review.”
According to the EEA report, Bulgaria has the highest concentrations of the two major varieties of particulate matter, which normally stem from airborne droplets or vehicle tailpipes. Also, four of Europe’s five cities with the most consistently high levels of particulate matter were Bulgarian. While Poland, where coal predominates in electricity production, also ranked at or near bottom for several air quality measures, another former Soviet nation, Estonia, was frequently ranked as having the cleanest air.

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