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15 Oct 2013: Nine in 10 Europeans in Cities
Breathe Dangerous, Polluted Air, Study Says

Autobahn air pollution
Zakysant/Wikimedia
German Autobahn
More than 90 percent of Europeans living in cities are exposed to harmful levels of air pollutants, according to a new assessment from the European Environment Agency. Concentrations of ground-level ozone, or smog, pose a danger to 97 percent of city populations, and levels of fine particulate matter (particles with a diameter less than 2.5 microns, known as PM2.5) exceed European standards for 91 to 96 percent of city-dwellers —and that's with European standards for both pollutants exceeding World Health Organization recommendations. A new study of European mothers linked higher PM2.5 exposure to lower birth weight, a standard indicator of fetal development. Eastern European countries have the highest levels of PM2.5, whereas ground-level ozone is worst in northern Italy. Although emissions of most air pollutants have steadily declined over the past 10 years — lead and carbon monoxide levels, for example, now meet international standards in most areas — emissions haven't fallen as much as predicted.


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