Air pollution news from the European Environment Agency. Last Minute EUROPE, CURRENT headlines and events

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According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), air quality in Europe is improving but still remains a major risk. In 2020, exposure to fine particles in the air was the cause of premature death in 27 EU countries.

Air pollution continues to pose the biggest environmental health risk in Europe, the EEA said in a statement. “Although emissions of key air pollutants and their concentrations in air in Europe have declined significantly over the past two decades, air quality remains poor in many areas,” the statement said.

Between 2005 and 2020, the rate of premature death among those exposed to fine particles in the European Union (EU) decreased by 45 percent. This is in line with the EU’s Zero Pollution Action Plan, which aims to reduce premature mortality by 55 percent by 2030.

However, 96 percent of the population living in EU cities in 2020 was still exposed to concentrations of fine particles in excess of the World Health Organization’s recommended level of 5 micrograms per cubic meter.

Air pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Comorbid heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of premature death.

The EEA has stated that more efforts are needed to achieve the goal of zero pollution by 2050. This includes reducing air pollution to levels where it is not considered harmful to health.

In October, the European Commission called for tighter restrictions on air pollution and support for people’s right to access to clean air. This means that if quality standards are violated, compensation for health problems can be claimed.

However, air pollution is not only harmful to health.

According to the EEA, 59 per cent of forested areas in the European Economic Area are exposed to harmful ground-level ozone. This, in turn, harms plants and reduces biodiversity.

In 2020, critical levels of nitrogen were found to accumulate in 75 percent of the ecosystems of the 27 EU member states. This is 12% less than in 2005. The EU’s goal is to reduce this figure by 25 percent by 2030.

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