Study: Air In Most European Cities Remains Dirty Even During Pandemic
Air pollution levels in more than half of European cities exceed the permitted levels, despite reducing harmful emissions during a period of severe restrictions under the pandemic.
According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), only 127 cities in the region had air pollution levels below the norm.
The air is dirtiest in Poland’s Nowy Sącz, Italy’s Cremona and Croatia’s Slavonski Brod, according to EEA estimates. The cleanest air is in Umea in Sweden, Tampere in Finland and Funchal in Portugal. Tallinn, Bergen, Uppsala, Narva, Salamanca, Stockholm and Tartu are also in the top 10 for cleaner air.
The EEA study covers 323 European cities for the period 2019-2020. According to the agency, the introduction of the lockdown in Europe has led to a significant drop in the nitrogen dioxide in the air, the source of which is diesel vehicles.
In some cities this drop was as much as 60%. The amount of suspended particulate matter in the air has changed less, however, with a maximum reduction of 20-30% in some cities. Their source is not only cars, but also industry, agriculture, households using firewood for heating, etc.
Meanwhile, it is these particles that are the leading cause of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in humans. In 2018, the EEA estimates that particulate air pollution caused 417,000 premature deaths in 41 countries in Europe.