Industrial air pollution cost Europe up to €169 billion in 2009, EEA reveals

Published: Nov 24, 2011 Source: European Environment Agency

Air pollution from the 10,000 largest polluting facilities in Europe cost citizens between € 102 and 169 billion in 2009. This was one of the findings of a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which analysed the costs of harm to health and the environment caused by air pollution. Half of the total damage cost (between € 51 and 85 billion) was caused by just 191 facilities.

Air Pollution Europe

The report, ‘Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe’, provides a list of the individual facilities that contribute the most harm.

The industrial facilities covered by the analysis include large power plants, refineries, manufacturing combustion and industrial processes, waste and certain agricultural activities. Emissions from power plants contributed the largest share of the damage costs (estimated at €66–112 billion). Other significant contributions to the overall damage costs came from production processes (€23–28 billion) and manufacturing combustion (€8–21 billion). Sectors excluded from the EEA analysis include transport, households and most agicultural activities – if these were included the cost of pollution would be even higher.

Our analysis reveals the high cost caused by pollution from power stations and other large industrial plants. The estimated costs are calculated using the emissions reported by the facilities themselves. By using existing tools employed by policy-makers to estimate harm to health and the environment, we revealed some of the hidden costs of pollution. We cannot afford to ignore these issues.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director

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Ozone and particulates most serious air quality problems in Europe

Published: Nov 09, 2011 Source: European Environment Agency

Air quality in Europe has improved between 1990 and 2009, as emissions of most pollutants have fallen, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). But there is still a lot of room for improvement, as many EU countries are expected to exceed the emissions ceilings in 2010 for at least one pollutant. In addition, concentration levels of ground-level ozone and particulate matter have remained stable over recent years despite efforts to improve air quality.

Air Pollution

Although emissions have fallen over the last two decades, this has not always led to a corresponding drop in pollutant concentrations in the air. This is particularly true in the case of particulate matter (PM) and ground-level ozone, as there is a complex relationship between emissions and air quality.

Ozone and PM are the most problematic pollutants for health, potentially causing or aggravating cardiovascular and lung diseases and leading to premature death. Eutrophication, an oversupply of nutrient nitrogen in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is another major problem caused by air pollutants. Ammonia (NH3) from agriculture and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from combustion processes are now the main acidifying and eutrophying air pollutants, as sulphur pollution has fallen in recent years. Many air pollutants also contribute to climate change.

Europe’s air quality is generally getting better, but concentrations of some pollutants are still endangering people’s health. To improve air quality further, we need to use many different kinds of policies and measures. These could include reducing emissions levels at source, better urban planning to reduce people’s exposure and lifestyle changes at the individual level

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director

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