Air pollution is currently the greatest risk to health in the European Union therefore it is one of, if not the main reason for premature deaths. Air pollution is severe in a number of countries, including Hungary. California-based non-profit organisation Berkeley Earth published a map that shows Europe’s PM2.5 pollution (particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm).
The map also published on weforum.org
shows that the situation is the worst in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
An analysis from Berkeley Earth concluded that in the most polluted parts of Europe, including Northern Hungary, the air quality was as harmful as smoking seven cigarettes a day.
EU action to protect human health from air pollution has not delivered its expected impact, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. Every year, air pollution causes about 400,000 premature deaths in the EU and hundreds of billions of euros in health-related external costs
, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) said last month
EU air quality standards were set almost twenty years ago, and the auditors found that some of them are much weaker than the World Health Organisation guidelines and what the latest scientific evidence suggests.
While emissions of air pollutants have been decreasing, most Member States still do not comply with the EU’s air quality standards and are not taking enough effective action to improve air quality, say the auditors.
In May this year, the European Commission referred six EU member states, including Hungary
, to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to respect agreed air quality limit values and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. The relevant infringement procedure against Hungary was launched in 2008.
People in urban areas are particularly exposed. Particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ground level ozone are the air pollutants responsible for most of these early deaths
, the ECA said.
The ECA made the following recommendations:
- More effective action by the Commission (target implementation date: 2020)
- Ambitious update of the Ambient Air Quality Directive (target implementation date: 2022)
- Prioritising and mainstreaming air quality into EU policies (target implementation date: 2022)
- Improving public awareness and information (target implementation date: 2022)
Front page photo by MTI / János Vajda
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