How polluted is the air in urban areas? - Produit Actualité Eurostat

null How polluted is the air in urban areas?


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The annual mean concentration of fine particles (PM2.5) in urban areas of the EU has been gradually decreasing to 12.6 μg/m3 in 2019.

Pollutants such as fine particulate matter suspended in the air reduce people’s life expectancy and perception of well-being, while they can also lead to or aggravate many chronic and acute respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Fine particles (PM10; with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres) can be carried deep into the lungs, where they can cause inflammation and exacerbate the condition of people suffering from heart and lung diseases. Meanwhile even smaller fine particles (PM2.5; with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) can impact health even more seriously as they can be drawn further into the lungs.

Trendline of exposure to air pollution by particular matter smaller than 2.5 microgrammes in urban areas of the EU, between the years 2000-2019​​​​​​​

Source dataset: SDG_11_50

While this type of air pollution has been for a number of years below the limit set from 2015 onwards (25 μg/m3 annual mean), substantial air-pollution hotspots remain. Moreover, despite the gradual decrease in the recent years, the levels of air pollution in 2019 still continue to be above the level recommended by the WHO (10 μg/m3 annual mean).

Among the EU Member States, the annual mean concentration of fine particles (PM2.5) is highest in urban areas of Bulgaria (19.6 μg/m3) and Poland (19.3 μg/m3), followed by Romania (16.4 μg/m3) and Croatia (16.0 μg/m3).

In contrast, the concentration is lowest in urban areas of Estonia (4.8 μg/m3), Finland (5.1 μg/m3) and Sweden (5.8 μg/m3).

Exposure to air pollution in the cities by EU country, 2019 data​​​​​​​

Source dataset: SDG_11_50

This news is published on the occasion of the EU Green Week (31 May – 4 June).

For more information:

  • This indicator measures the population weighted annual mean concentration of particulate matter at urban background stations in agglomerations.
  • Fine particulates (PM10) are particulates whose diameters are less than 10 micrometres. Fine particulates (PM2.5) are those whose diameters are less than 2.5 micrometres. They are therefore a subset of the PM10 particles. For more information: methodological file.
  • Based on the annual submission of Member States’ measured concentrations, the data are processed by the European Environment Agency (EEA), assisted by the European Topic Centre on Air Pollution, Transport, Noise and Industrial Pollution (ETC/ATNI) (and its predecessor ETC/ACM).

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