Tag Archive: Air Pollution

  1. Health-damaging polluted air – EU citizens could sue their governments

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    Source: euractiv, Georgi Gotev

    A top court advisor shared that citizens in European Union countries may be able to sue their governments for compensation if their health is damaged by illegal levels of air pollution

    The European Environmental Agency estimates air pollution to be responsible for roughly 300,000 premature deaths a year in Europe. Following 10 EU countries being found guilty of illegal air pollution by the Luxembourg Court of Justice of the EU in the last 10 years, an advisor to the court has stated that citizens may be able to sue their home countries.

    An infringement of the limit values for the protection of air quality under EU law may give rise to entitlement to compensation from the State,” the court said in a statement.

    An individual must be able to prove that the damage to their health was caused directly by air pollution. “This legal confirmation that there are routes to hold those in power to account is a major breakthrough in the fight for clean and healthy air,” said Irmina Kotiuk, lawyer at environmental law firm ClientEarth.

  2. New research uncovers the economic and environmental benefits of the electric motorcycle

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    Source: Science Direct

    The potential to transform polluted city centres?

    Transportation accounts for 25% of total global CO2 emissions, primarily through fuel combustion. In many large cities, such as Barcelona and Madrid, combustion engine vehicle density has escalated air pollution levels to exceedingly high values. In line with European health legislation, many such cities have been forced to implement action plans to alleviate this issue; this includes low emission zones and vehicle environmental impact assessments.

    A current emerging trend is electrifying mobility, with electric vehicle ownership increasing by a factor of ten in the last 5 years. These vehicles are perceived to have a significantly lower environmental impact than their combustion engine counterparts. Carranza et al. now analyze this environmental disparity in the context of Barcelona and motorcycles – in Spain, there was an 8.7% growth of motorcycle registrations in 2021 compared to the previous year. Understanding the potential for developing battery-electric motorcycle technology to reduce the environmental impact of motorcycle use in Spain is therefore crucial for limiting the country’s emissions going forward.

    When analyzing the environmental impact of any vehicle there are multiple stages to consider – manufacturing, maintenance, operation, and disposal; however, the operational stage is where the most impact takes place. In internal combustion engine vehicles, direct emissions from fuel during their lifecycle equate to a value 10 times higher than their electric counterparts (6670 kgCO2-eq global warming potential compared to 650 kgCO2-eq). The source of electricity for battery electric vehicles does of course impact their individual emissions, doubling if supplied by purely coal plants; however, even at their highest point, operational emissions are still far below those of internal combustion vehicles.

    Electric vs combustion engine

    Considering all aspects of lifecycle, the global warming potential of battery-electric motorcycles is approximately one-fifth of internal combustion engine motorcycles, showing them to be a promising alternative. Regarding air pollution, the results of photochemical oxidation formation were 30% lower for electric motorcycles.

    Electromobility will play a fundamental role in the transformation of densely populated and pollution-troubled European cities such as Barcelona. To read the full open access study, offering additional analysis and findings, click here.

  3. Air pollution linked to 1.8 million deaths annually

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    Source: Euractiv

    Recently published studies in The Lancet Planetary Health journal link some 1.8 million excess deaths and nearly 2 million asthma cases to air pollution globally in 2019.

    These findings reveal the desperate need for strategies to improve air pollution and reduce harmful exposures – particularly to the most vulnerable groups in society, children and the elderly. It has been revealed that 2.5 billion people, 86% of those living in urban areas worldwide, are exposed to unhealthy particulate matter levels. World Health Organisation (WHO) states, “there is a close, quantitative relationship between exposure to high concentrations of small particulates and increased mortality or morbidity, both daily and over time.”

    The European Commission is currently preparing a legislative proposal that acts to more closely align EU air quality standards to those recommended by WHO; this will make up one part of the flagship European Green Deal, planned for late 2022. The deal is crucial as many European locations fall behind the NO2 limit. There are currently 13 infringement cases open against member states, with NO2 concentrations in these locations continually exceeding the upper limit of 40 μg/m3.

    It should be noted, that pollution in the EU has seen a general decrease in the last two decades, including key pollutants PM2.5 and NO2. While this is positive, there is a long road to cleaner air and a healthier society; even with these improvements, NO2 was still associated with 1.85 million new pediatric asthma cases in 2019.

    The full studies can be read here, and here.

  4. E-cyclists breathe less polluted air

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    Source: Fietsberaad Crow

    E-bike users saw a pollutant intake 33% lower than pedal cyclists

    It’s well known that during exercise the body requires more oxygen, breathing more intensely. A new study published in the Journal of Transport & Health now places this extra exertion in the context of urban settings that many cyclists ride through.

    Polluted air intake was found to be reduced by 33% across nineteen participants when using an e-Bike, compared to a non-assisted bike. Variation of intake was seen across bicycle type, gender, speed, and route typography. The conclusion reached is that the assisted movement of an e-Bike reduces the rate of respiration, and therefore exposure to polluted air.

    The study shines a light on the potential for further research into e-Bikes, and the additional health benefits associated with riding one.

  5. EEA: Air Pollution goes Down in Europe during Coronavirus

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    The European Environment Agency’s (EEA) data confirm large decreases in air pollutant concentrations — of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations in particular — largely due to reduced traffic and other activities, especially in major cities under lockdown measures. Reductions of around half have been seen in some locations. The EEA’s data are measured hourly, on the ground, at about 3,000 monitoring stations across European countries.

    ‘’The EEA’s data show an accurate picture of the drop in air pollution, especially due to reduced traffic in cities. However, addressing long-term air quality problems requires ambitious policies and forward-looking investments. As such, the current crisis and its multiple impacts on our society work against what we are trying to achieve, which is a just and well-managed transition towards a resilient and sustainable society’’, says Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director

    The EEA’s data for recent weeks show how concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a pollutant mainly emitted by road transport, have decreased in many Italian cities. For example:

    • In Milan, average concentrations of NO2 for the past four weeks have been at least 24 % lower than four weeks earlier this year. The average concentration during the week of 16-22 March was 21 % lower than for the same week in 2019.
    • In Bergamo, there has been a constant decline in NO2 pollution over the past four weeks. The average concentration during the week of 16-22 March was 47 % lower than for the same week in 2019.
    • In Rome, average NO2 concentrations for the past four weeks were 26-35 % lower than for the same weeks in 2019.

    Similar trends can be seen in other European cities where lockdown measures have been implemented during the week of 16-22 March.

    • In Barcelona, average NO2 levels went down by 40 % from one week to the next. Compared with the same week in 2019, the reduction was 55 %.
    • In Madrid, average NO2 levels went down by 56 % from one week to the next. Compared with the same week in 2019, the reduction was 41 %.
    • In Lisbon, average NO2 levels went down by 40 % from one week to the next. Compared with the same week in 2019, the reduction was 51 %.

    Background information. Exposure to air pollution can lead to adverse health effects, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Several health authorities have warned that those citizens with certain pre-existing conditions, such as respiratory illnesses, may have an increased vulnerability to COVID-19.  However, at present it is not clear whether ongoing exposure to air pollution might worsen the condition of those infected by the virus. Further epidemiological research by the EEA is needed to address such questions.

    Full EEA article

     

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