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Air pollution still harming health across Europe

October 16, 2013 Comments off

Air pollution still harming health across Europe
Source: European Environment Agency

Around 90 % of city dwellers in the European Union (EU) are exposed to one of the most damaging air pollutants at levels deemed harmful to health by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This result comes from the latest assessment of air quality in Europe, published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The report, ‘Air quality in Europe – 2013 report’, is an EEA contribution to the European Commission’s review of air quality policy and the EU ‘Year of Air’.

Vehicles, industry, agriculture and homes are contributing to air pollution in Europe. Despite falling emission levels and reductions of some air pollutant concentrations in recent decades, the report demonstrates that Europe’s air pollution problem is far from solved. Two specific pollutants, particulate matter and ground-level ozone, continue to be a source breathing problems, cardiovascular disease and shortened lives. New scientific findings show that human health can be harmed by lower concentrations of air pollution than previously thought.

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EU — Big potential of cutting greenhouse gases from waste

September 5, 2011 Comments off

Big potential of cutting greenhouse gases from waste
Source: European Environment Agency

Biodegradable waste sent to landfill produces methane when the organic material decomposes anaerobically. Although this potent GHG can be captured and used to generate energy, much of it escapes into the atmosphere where it has a powerful climate forcing effect. Reducing the amount of waste going to landfill is therefore an important objective of EU waste policies.

Nonetheless, waste volumes continue to rise across the EU. The average EU citizen generated 468 kg of municipal solid waste in 1995, which increased to 524 kg in 2008. This could rise to 558 kg per person by 2020 unless effective policies are put in place to reduce waste generation.

The report takes a ‘life-cycle approach’ to calculating emissions from waste, considering all direct emissions from waste during processing and transport. In addition, it also accounts for emissions that are avoided in other parts of the economy – for example, accounting for the reduction of emissions when fossil fuels are displaced by energy recovered from waste. In this way, the method can show the potential impacts of various waste management strategies.

Especially recycling leads to avoided emissions. This is because recycling materials from municipal waste avoids emissions that would have been generated in extracting and processing virgin raw materials and these avoided emissions are higher than the emissions caused by the recycling processes. More details on the calculations, assumptions and data are available in this working paper.

Three different scenarios for 2020 illustrate that the potential for GHG savings largely depends on how countries implement EU waste policies, in particular whether they meet the EU Landfill Directive targets to reduce landfill of biodegradable municipal waste.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Environment: Bathing water quality remains high around the EU

June 20, 2011 Comments off

Environment: Bathing water quality remains high around the EU
Source: European Environment Agency

The quality of bathing water across Europe declined slightly between 2009 and 2010, but the overall quality was still high. More than nine out of 10 bathing water sites now meet the minimum requirements. Cyprus was the star performer, with 100% of its bathing water sites meeting strict guide values, followed by Croatia (97.3%), Malta (95.4%), Greece (94.2%) and Ireland (90.1%). The results are from the annual Bathing Water Report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission, which compare water quality in more than 21,000 coastal and inland bathing sites across the EU-27. The Commission has also adopted new signs and symbols that will be used to inform the public on bathing water classification and on bathing restrictions.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of the quality of bathing water in EU Member States throughout the 2010 bathing season, so swimmers can find areas where water quality is expected to be good during 2011. It also shows trends in bathing water quality since 1990.

The analysis brings together data from more than 21,000 designated bathing waters across Europe, approximately 70% of them coastal sites and the rest inland bathing waters. Sites are classified as compliant with mandatory values, compliant with the more stringent guide values, or non-compliant.

+ Full Report
+ Questions and answers on bathing water policy
+ European Commission Bathing water quality

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