A slight improvement in air quality is not enough to celebrate

A study by Green Watch directs our attention at Europe’s most and least polluted countries

There’s some good news about the air pollution in European countries. According to Eurostat, the last decade has seen a decline in the annual mean concentration of PM 2.5 particles, which can be as small as 2.5 microns and become extremely detrimental to our respiratory system. While in 2011 concentrations rose as high as 19.4 µg/m3, the highest in the last twenty years, by 2019 they had plummeted to 12.6 µg/m3. This is an overall improvement in the quality of our air and, perhaps, a reason to lightly path ourselves in the back.

The bad news, however, is that even though this median sits well within the air quality standards defined by the EU, there are still many areas within the Continent where air pollution is a mayor health crisis. Countries where air pollutants have become an issue of life or death, aggravating existing conditions like heart and lung diseases, such as bronchitis and asthma.

Pollution is not a simple reality. It is not just the air that we breathe; it is also the water we consume and the soil where our crops grow. It is a matrix of intertwined problems that has no simple solution and requires a monumental effort for it to be fixed, both humanitarian and scientific. The legal and technological tools to do so are underway, but it is always good for us, the ordinary citizens, to have raw data at hand that can help us understand the scope of the larger issue.

A comprehensive report

Conducted by Green Match, a consultancy from the UK, this study sheds some interesting light about the skies and soils of Europe. First, they gathered raw data from the World Health Organization and other related agencies. Then, they compared it against a list of seven key components in the production of contaminants, as applied to countries within the Continent. These seven key figures include CO2 emissions, deaths attributed to air pollution, and the concentration of PM 2.5 particles in city environments. Each country, then, was given a score of 10/10. The higher the score, the more polluted the country is.

The results

The results are interesting, but perhaps not surprising. According to this study, Turkey is the most polluted country in Europe, with a score of 6.1/10. Her concentration of PM 2.5 particles is of 41 µg/m3 and the CO2 emissions are a worrying 4.33 tones per capita. Even worse, air pollution was found to be responsible for 44 annual deaths per 100,000 capita. Considering that Turkey’s population, by 2021, was estimated to be 84,680,273, that figure amounts to over 37,000 deaths every year caused by air pollution alone.

With scores of 5.5 and 5.4 respectively, Poland and Latvia help Turkey complete the triad of Europe’s most polluted countries. Their numbers are no laughing matter. Poland’s annual deaths attributed to air pollution are 69 per 100,000 capita, while Latvia’s rise to 91 per 100,000 capita. Unlike Turkey, their PM 2.5 concentrations are not over the top, but other environmental factors, such as forested areas, play an important role in earning their scores. Czech Republic, Hungary and Lithuania follow close behind as the next three most polluted nations in Europe.

Not everything is as bad

What countries are the cleanest?

Sweden and Finland, on the other hand, are the Continent’s cleanest countries, with scores of 2.8 and 3.5, respectively. Their fossil fuels emissions are comparable to those of other countries, but their concentration of PM 2.5 particles are small. Specially in Finland, where it is as low as 6 µg/m3. It may not come as a surprise that these two countries have large forest areas, which act as powerful natural lungs. Surprisingly enough, the air of both Norway and Denmark is not as clean as that of their Scandinavian cousins.

But what about the UK?

Compared to the Continent’s median, her score is slightly better at 4.3/10, with an overall minor improvement in all other metrics. This is good news, of course, but nothing to be too excited about. Even though Europe is committed to the global environmental cause, it is no secret that there are still many issues to be resolved. Although steps are being taken to control air pollution, the sad reality is that it is a presence we will have to deal with for a long time.

How can we improve the quality of our air in indoor spaces?

We cannot avoid venturing into the outside world and be affected by it, but we can do something to fight against contaminants in the spaces where we work. At AIR8, we specialize in the design of low-energy cost products that use the most advanced air filtration in the market: medical-grade HEPA-13 technology, backed up by TÜV tests and CE approved.

Depending on the model you choose, you will find that our air purifiers are built with four to six stages of filters and pre-filter, such as UV-GI light, carbon filtration and Cold Catalyst. They can capture and filter away particles within the PM 2.5 range and even protect your space against viruses as small as 0.125 microns, such as COVID-19. When you choose an AIR8 purifier, you are acquiring one of the best and most effective products in the market, with an impeccable CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) and the best price quality relationship.

If you are interested in knowing how an AIR8 filter can help improve your space, you can read this article about one of the various problems with stagnant indoor air. The skies of Europe may be polluted, but the air in your office can be as pristine as a Swedish forest.