Pollutionwatch: European air-quality map exposes dangers

From diesel-stricken Paris to coal-reliant Poland, study of pollution hotspots underlines need for reform

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The European Environment Agency has shed fresh light on the continent’s air quality. Following the prevailing winds from west to east there is a clear gradient, with the cleanest air in the countries first in line for fresh Atlantic winds.

Geography has an impact too: the Alps and Apennines trap air pollution in Italy’s Po Valley, making it one of the worst-hit areas.

Southern Europe’s strong sunlight leads to chemical reactions between pollutants to produce the hardest-hit areas for ozone at ground level, affecting health and crops.

One of the clearest divides comes from a political policy. Travel from Germany to coal-dependent Poland and there is a big increase in particle pollution and cancer-causing polycyclic hydrocarbons.

Diesel traffic makes our largest cities the worst places for nitrogen dioxide. The large number of vehicles that passed tests but emitted much more exhaust when driven on our roads mean London and Paris, as well as most cities and towns across the continent, are almost a decade late in complying with legal limits.

Air pollution progress has nearly stalled. With more than 400,000 early deaths annually from air pollution in the EU28, there are significant opportunities to improve our health, environment and economy by aggressively tacking the problem at source.

via Pollutionwatch: European air-quality map exposes dangers | Environment | The Guardian

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