Air pollution levels have improved in Europe over 20 years, say researchers

(The Guardian, 13 Mar 2024) But 98% of Europeans live in areas WHO says have unhealthy levels of PM2.5.

Air pollution levels have improved in Europe over the past 20 years, research has found.

However, despite these improvements, most of the European population lives in areas exceeding the World Health Organization’s recommended levels. About 98% of Europeans live in areas the WHO says have unhealthy levels of small particles known as PM2.5, 80% for larger ones known as PM10, and 86% for nitrogen dioxide.

The study, led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), looked at pollution levels in more than 1,400 regions in 35 European countries, representing 543 million people.

“Targeted efforts are needed to address PM2.5 and ozone levels and associated compound unclean days, especially in the context of rapidly increasing threats from climate change in Europe,” said Zhao-Yue Chen, ISGlobal researcher and lead author of the study.

The results, published in the journal Nature Communications, show that overall suspended particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels have decreased in most parts of Europe.

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The Guardian, 13 Mar 2024: Air pollution levels have improved in Europe over 20 years, say researchers