Airborne chemicals, such as Sulphur dioxide, still pose a threat to the EU’s plant and animal life, despite policies to reduce the pollutants over the past few decades, according to the European Environment Agency.
Acid rain gained attention in the 1970s, for destroying forests and killing fish, such as brown trout and Atlantic Salmon.
Eutrophication, caused by the excess use of certain fertilisers or sewage leaks, can damage ecosystems by creating more favourable conditions for certain plants, in phenomena such as algael bloom.
About 60% of EU ecosystems are affected by eutrophication, compared to their peak of 80% in 1990, according to the EEA report, published yesterday (30 June).
Hans Bruyninckx, the EEA’s executive director, said: “Although air pollution does not cause as much harm as it once did, we are still struggling to protect sensitive ecosystems from harmful effects as eutrophication”, adding, “It is particularly striking that the problem appears to be just as bad in Europe’s protected natural areas.”
The level of SOx emissions have fell 84% between 1990 and 2012. Today around 5% of EU ecosystems are affected by acidification. In 1880, almost half of the EU’s most sensitive ecosystems were exposed to excess SOx.