BRUSSELS, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — Air pollution remains the single largest environmental health hazard in Europe, resulting in a lower quality of life due to illnesses and an estimated 467,000 premature deaths per year, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The report, published by the European Union (EU) agency on Wednesday, presents an updated overview and analysis of air quality in Europe from 2000 to 2014 based on data from official monitoring stations in more than 400 cities across Europe.
It shows that in 2014 around 85 percent of the urban population in the EU were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) at levels deemed harmful to health by the World Health Organization.
Such particulate matter can cause or aggravate cardiovascular diseases, asthma and lung cancer, and is responsible for a large number of premature deaths in Europe, the report says.
“Emission reductions have led to improvements in air quality in Europe, but not enough to avoid unacceptable damage to human health and the environment,” said EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx.
“We need to tackle the root causes of air pollution, which calls for a fundamental and innovative transformation of our mobility, energy and food systems,” he added.
Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, said that the report reminded European politicians to keep the subject high on the agenda, adding that different levels of government needs to “work better together.”
“I hope that the European Parliament will vote positively on our reduction commitments in the new National Emission Ceilings Directive. This will provide direction for national and local actors,” said the Commissioner.
However, the report finds that air quality in the EU has improved over the years, with both annual average PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations having dropped significantly over the period.