Although the emission of air pollutants in Europe has reduced over the last few decades, PM10 levels are still high in select cities. Air pollution is a pan-European problem as wind can carry pollutants released from one city to another. Unfortunately, a good proportion of Europe’s population resides in cities where the particulate matter levels exceed the recommended level of 20 microgram per cubic meters.
Countries With The Worst Air Quality
1. FYR Macedonia
The FYR Macedonia is one of the most polluted European nations with the PM10 levels in some cities exceeding the recommended concentration. The most polluted urban area in Macedonia is Tetovo which has a mean PM10 level of about 140 micrograms per cubic meters followed by Skopje (74 micrograms per cubic meters). The high PM10 levels in Tetovo and Skopje is caused by a combination of molds, dirt, soot, diesel soot, smoke, wood smoke, and metal. Other cities like Bitola and Veles rank among the most polluted cities in Europe. Air pollution causes over thirty percent of all illnesses and about 1,300 deaths in Macedonia. The leading cause of pollution includes industry emissions, the transport sector, and the combustion processes.
2. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina also features cities on the list, most notably the city of Tuzla. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, air pollution consumes a portion of the country’s GDP through fuel and healthcare costs and lost school and work days. Tuzla has a PM10 mean average of about 105 micrograms per cubic meters followed by Sarajevo (50 microgram per cubic meters). Before the 1970s, Sarajevo used to be the most polluted city in the country. The residents of Sarajevo were using coal to warm their house during winter, but the government increased the usage of gas heating which has reduced pollution in the city. The cement factories, fertilizer, detergent and chemical industry and the thermal power plant in Tuzla have contributed to the high PM10 level.
Air pollution causes the premature death of about 50,000 people in Poland every year. On February 22, 2018, the European Union’s top court ruled out that Poland has repeatedly breached the EU’s air pollution standards. According to WHO, Poland is home to half of the top 30 most polluted cities in Europe starting with Zywiec and Pszczyna, which both measure at 59 micrograms per cubic meters. WHO’s report confirmed that 33 Polish urban areas out of the 50 most polluted European cities are the ones affected by smog the most. The leading cause of air pollution is the use of coal to warm people’s houses during winter.
Effect Of Air Pollution
Over 90% of the city residents in Europe are exposed to high levels of air pollutants which affects their health. The presence of particulate matters in the atmosphere continues being the source of cardiovascular diseases, breathing issues and premature deaths. Other than causing harm and untimely deaths to human beings and animals, air pollution also affects the environment. Exposure to high ozone levels damages crops, which has affected a number of the agricultural regions in Europe.