Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blog 6: Air Pollution in Europe

Summary: Over ninety percent of European cities are breathing in dangerously high polluted air, causing major respiratory ailments, says the UN’s World Health Organization. Evidence shows that this extreme amount of pollution can linked to 430,000 deaths throughout the continent. This can be blamed on the countries and their failure the update and require strict limitations on harmful emissions. EEA director, Hans Bruyninckx says "Large parts of the population do not live in a healthy environment, according to current standards. To get on to a sustainable path, Europe will have to be ambitious and go beyond current legislation." This contradicts a prior statement released from the EEA claiming that the air quality in Europe was meeting “acceptable” levels. The WHO says 85-98% of Europe's urban population is exposed to dangerous levels of air pollutions but the EU says only 14-31% of people are exposed. Low level ozone and particulate matter in the atmosphere are the more prominent pollutants in Europe. Their effects are linked to global warming, acid rain, and human health.

Analysis: The European Environmental Agency (EEA) claims that there has been a decline in air pollution emissions for the past decade along with an increase in industry thriving on fossil fuels. Since the 1990’s when industry caused pollution was at its highest, Europe has been making great strides by replacing dirty coal with gas, higher engine standards, etc. But now scientists are learning that it doesn’t take as much of a pollutant like particulate matter to make an impact on the environment and cause health issues. Therefore, the limitations on industry to minimize emissions needs to be less lenient. The EU’s target of limit of emissions is already well below that suggested by the UN. The effects of this pollution create a lot of problems in society. The environmental consequences include acid rain, loss of biodiversity, damage to structures and visibility. Health wise; people living in these areas have higher risk of suffering from respiratory problems, heart disease, and live a generally shorter life. There is also evidence concluding that mothers living in the 90% of affected Europe have children with lower than normal birth weights.

Addie McKay
7:30 pm

No comments: