Air quality in Europe is improving, but polluted air in particular causes much damage to the economy and health in cities. In general, European air is becoming cleaner, but three pollutants continue to cause great damage. The situation remains worst in cities.
According to the World Health Organization WHO, almost all city dwellers breathe in air that is unhealthy. Agriculture is seen as one of the culprits. The European Environment Agency stresses that air pollution is not only harmful to health but also to the economy, due to "higher health care costs, lower yields from agriculture and forestry and lower productivity".
Although the economy is growing in Europe, emissions of air pollutants and their concentrations in the air are falling, the European research agency confirms EEA based on the latest data. According to the agency, this proves that a strong policy makes the difference. There is less particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and heavy metals in our air, which has also reduced health damage. In 2016 some 412,000 people died prematurely in particulate matter in 41 European countries. Compared to 2015, there are 17,000 fewer and almost half less than in 1990.
The premature death mainly has to do with air pollution from nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter. According to the European standard, 6 to 8 percent of the population is exposed to too much fine dust. The culprits are transport, industry and agriculture. The latter shows the least progress, but the most profit can also be achieved there. Much is expected from the new climate policy that Europe is working on to become completely climate-neutral and pollution-free by 2050.
An EMA map shows that air pollution is particularly high in northern Italy, Poland, parts of the Balkans. But also some measuring stations in Belgium and parts of the Ruhr area color more red than the rest of Europe.