The European Environment Agency has confirmed a large decrease in the amount of air pollution across the continent, largely due to Coronavirus lockdown measures.
Drawing on data from 3000 monitoring stations across European countries, the EEA has noted a significant drop in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations. NO2 is a pollutant that is usually emitted by cars and other road vehicles. In some locations, the prevalence of harmful pollutants in the air had dropped by as much as half.
Hans Bruyninckx the Director of the Agency said:
“The EEA’s data show an accurate picture of the drop in air pollution, especially due to reduced traffic in cities. However, addressing long-term air quality problems requires ambitious policies and forward-looking investments. As such, the current crisis and its multiple impacts on our society work against what we are trying to achieve, which is a just and well-managed transition towards a resilient and sustainable society.”
Data from Italy showed the following:
- In Milan, average concentrations of NO2 for the past four weeks have been at least 24 % lower than four weeks earlier this year. The average concentration during the week of 16-22 March was 21 % lower than for the same week in 2019.
- In Bergamo, there has been a constant decline in NO2 pollution over the past four weeks. The average concentration during the week of 16-22 March was 47 % lower than for the same week in 2019.
- In Rome, average NO2 concentrations for the past four weeks were 26-35 % lower than for the same weeks in 2019.
Data from other European cities shows the following:
- In Barcelona, average NO2 levels went down by 40 % from one week to the next. Compared with the same week in 2019, the reduction was 55 %.
- In Madrid, average NO2 levels went down by 56 % from one week to the next. Compared with the same week in 2019, the reduction was 41 %.
- In Lisbon, average NO2 levels went down by 40 % from one week to the next. Compared with the same week in 2019, the reduction was 51 %.
Poor air quality causes over 400,000 premature deaths in Europe each year and it’s the single largest environmental health risk on the continent. Most of Europe’s population live in areas where such levels of air pollution pose a significant risk to their health.
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