France and many European countries regularly show pollution peaks well above the standards set by Brussels. In general, more than 130 European cities still face difficulties in complying with them, and 30 infringement procedures are ongoing against 20 of the 28 member countries. And this Thursday, November 16, the Paris metropolitan area is experiencing an episode of pollution due to microparticles (PM10).
In order to raise public awareness, the European Environment Agency and the European Commission have just launched an “european air quality index” which will make it possible to provide pollution data. in real time. It centralizes data from more than 2000 measurement stations on the continent. They measure five key pollutants ‘harmful to health and the environment’, explains the European Environment Agency: microparticles (PM2.5 and PM10), ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2).
The map represents a snapshot of the pollution
Users can zoom in on the city they are interested in and see the situation for each of the pollutants as close to their home as possible with five color codes (from light green, best, to deep red, worst). Gray dots appear in several Member States such as Italy, Greece, Iceland or Turkey, which do not transmit their data for the moment.
The map represents a snapshot of air quality at a specific time over the last two days, but clicking on a point also provides access to a graph summarizing the situation of previous days.
The most harmful pollutant that is the fine microparticles (PM2.5) has caused the death of “about 400,000 people in 2014” recalls the European Environment Agency. Asthma, lung cancer, heart disease are among the diseases related to air pollution. “It’s an invisible killer, so the air quality index is needed by European citizens about the quality of the air they breathe in their environment,” said Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment .
It remains to find the right ways to combat this scourge. This of course means reducing road traffic and fuel consumption, and developing bike paths. But the Agency also aims at district heating, industries and finally agriculture by reducing for the latter “ammonia emissions by a closed storage of manure”.