In “America’s air: In a state of unhealthy repair?” posted on the Air Quality Matters blog on Aug. 31, 2013, the assertion, “… one finding of a more recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is that there is a total American air-pollution-related premature death rate of approximately 200,000 annually, …” was made. To repeat: that’s 200,000 people in the U.S. yearly dying early from air pollution’s effects.
In Europe, on the other hand, matters in this regard appear to be far graver.
In the EurActiv article “EU auditors to assess anti-pollution efforts by testing Brussels air” there is this startling statement: “… [R]esearch shows that fine particulate matter was responsible for 436,000 premature deaths in the EU in 2013, while nitrogen oxide and ground-level ozone claimed the lives of 68,000 and 16,000 citizens, respectively.”
Preceding this was this: “The European Court of Auditors is to embark on a comprehensive review of the European Union’s efforts to curb air pollution, the main environmental cause of premature deaths in the EU, the court said on Thursday (21 September),” and this: “The Luxembourg-based Court will look into the effectiveness of current EU policies on tackling air pollution. Air quality in six European cities will be tested as part of the audit, including in Brussels, the heart of the EU. The audit is scheduled to take place over the next few months and the Court hopes to publish its findings in mid-2018,” which should provide far greater clarity.
So, what’s going on?! Comparatively speaking, why is polluted air in Europe far more severe than it is in the U.S.?
Though not stated in the article specifically, automobiles among other sources appear to be main European-based pollution drivers.
Sam Morgan, the article’s author, added: “The chosen test venues include the often-congested capital of the EU; an urban area in one of the newest states; a city at the heart of the German car industry; and Krakow, where smog levels are so bad that living there is equivalent to smoking 4,000 cigarettes a year, according to a recent study.” Investigations will be additionally carried out in Milan, Ostrava (Czech Republic), Sofia and Stuttgart, ostensibly areas of the EU with the highest levels or concentrations of polluted air.
With conditions as dire as they are, something must be done and the audit is definitely a start.
Anna Heslop, a lawyer at ClientEarth, apparently, fully supports the auditing effort being undertaken and implored the Commission to remain firm “‘in holding member states accountable,’” and looks forward to the corresponding report release, according to information contained in the article in question .
That all said, at least one individual interviewed, Margherita Tolotto, a European Environment Bureau policy officer, offered her take, when she declared that “‘another report to persuade national governments to act,’” should not be needed.
“‘We know the solutions: cut wasted energy by improving efficiency, stop burning fossil fuels – especially coal, close the most polluting power plants and take old diesel cars off of the road,’ she said.”
The situation indeed sounds serious.
Image above: Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
– Alan Kandel