Understanding and dealing with air pollution’s fallout

"CO mixing ratio (ppbv) @ 850 hPa"
“CO mixing ratio (ppbv) @ 850 hPa”

There appears to be growing consensus world air quality is worsening. Recognizing polluted air is a problem is one thing. Cleaning it up is a whole ‘nother matter entirely not to mention doing so is easier said than done.

“According to the latest research, a majority (56 %) of Europeans believe that air quality has deteriorated in the last 10 years. In Italy, as many as 81 % hold this view, and in Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Spain, 70-75 % of survey participants believe that this is the case,” a Europa press release revealed.1 “Almost four out of five participants (79 %) believe that the EU should propose additional measures to address air pollution.

“The survey specifically asked participants if they were aware of EU air quality standards and national emission ceilings, and out of those who know about these instruments (25 % in both cases), more than half (58 % and 51 %) were of the view that they should be strengthened. The findings will now feed into an on-going review on EU air policy by the Commission which is due for the second half of 2013,” the release indicated.

Noted in the release also was: “The survey reveals widespread dissatisfaction with actions currently being taken to address air quality problems, with seven out of ten Europeans (72%) considering themselves unhappy with efforts by public authorities to improve air quality.”

Furthermore, widespread and thorough dissemination of information about air quality issues in Europe may be lacking.

“The survey also shows a general sense that the level of information about air quality is insufficient; almost six out of ten (59%) Europeans do not feel adequately informed about air quality issues, with 31 % of participants in Spain and 27 % in Luxemburg, Cyprus and Latvia of the view that they are not informed at all,” according to the European Union’s Europa release.

As reported earlier, and to reiterate, “According to a new analysis published in the Lancet, more than 3.2 million people suffered premature deaths from air pollution in 2010, the largest number on record. That’s up from 800,000 in 2000. And it’s a regional problem: 65% of those deaths occurred in Asia, where the air is choked by diesel soot from cars and trucks, as well as the smog from power plants and the dust from endless urban construction. In East Asia and China, 1.2 million people died, as well as another 712,000 in South Asia, including India. For the first time ever, air pollution is on the world’s top-10 list of killers, and it’s moving up the ranks faster than any other factor.” (For more, see: “Unbreathable: Air Pollution Becomes a Major Global Killer”).

Arguably, the most pressing concern and one of the most formidable challenges in my view, is how the deleterious, deplorable and destructive air pollution that exists in the world today can effectively be cleansed and on whose shoulders this responsibility rests.

At the end of the day there are no easy answers.


  1. The European Union describes Europa as follows: “Europa.eu is the official website of the European Union,” from the “About EUROPA,” page, http://europa.eu/abouteuropa/index_en.htm.

Image above: NASA

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