Air pollution from Europe to India

Air quality has improved across much of Europe in recent years, notably due to reduced economic activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there is no cause for celebration just yet, as air pollution remains “a major health problem” for people across the continent, according to the European Environment Agency.

“In some major cities, high concentrations of NO2 remain due to road traffic, and NO2 is linked to asthma and respiratory problems,” the agency notes.

This is concerning because prolonged exposure to fine particles can cause or worsen cardiovascular and lung disease, as well as a host of other conditions, from Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly to learning disabilities in children.

“Despite emission reductions, in 2020 the majority of the urban population in the EU was exposed to levels of essential air pollutants that are harmful to health. Mainly for health, 96% of the urban population were exposed at concentrations of fine particles (PM2.5) above the WHO guideline of 5 µg/m3”, notes the EEA.

“In contrast, less than 1% of the urban population was exposed to PM2.5 concentrations above the EU annual limit value of 25 µg/m3, highlighting the gap between policy targets current EU and scientific evidence on when health effects occur. he warns.

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The most affected regions

Among the regions most affected by air pollution are Central and Eastern Europe and Italy mainly due to the burning of solid fuels such as coal and wood for domestic heating and the use of fossil fuels in industrial production, according to the agency. .

This should come as no surprise, as countries like Poland, where large amounts of coal continue to be burned, have long been plagued by stale air over large swathes of their territories for most of the year.

The problem is not limited to Europe either.

Globally, about 2.5 billion people, or 86% of all urban residents, suffer from varying degrees of air pollution, many of whom are at increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory and other diseases, according to a report. new discovery.

Persistently high levels of air pollution in India and other developing countries are of particular concern, where hundreds of millions of people, from newborns to centenarians, are exposed to PM2.5 and other air pollutants throughout the year.

Worryingly, despite nationwide efforts in India to tackle the problem, air pollution in the country is worsening with many cities plagued by clouds of smog and smoke. The Indian government has pledged to cut particulate emissions by up to 30% from 2017 levels by 2024, but progress towards that goal has been mediocre at best.

A total of 132 cities now have pollution levels considered below national standards, out of 102 cities at the start of the National Clean Air Program in 2019, according to a report by the Center for Energy and Clean Air Research. from Bloomberg in January.

“Limited funding, a lack of stricter emissions standards for industries including metal smelters and oil refineries, and slow progress in adding monitoring stations are all factors that are hampering work to improve air quality,” he added.

Air pollution effects

Included muchos niños por nacer se ven afectados, y que la contamination de l’aire está causando tasas más highs de abortos espontáneos, complicaciones en el embarazo y mortinatos, esspecialmente en Delhi, la ciudad más contaminada del mundo, y otros centers urbanos afectados de manera similar in the country.

In total, more than 90% of Indians live in areas where air quality is consistently below standards considered safe by the World Health Organization. One of the main reasons for this is the continued use of outdated coal-fired power plants, while factories and vehicles also contribute their own share of pollutants.

“The problem is compounded during the winter due to stubble burning by farmers, which typically blankets northern cities, including the capital New Delhi, in a stifling smog,” Bloomberg explained.

By Daniel T. Cross. Articles in English

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