NEARLY 16.8 million people in Spain breathe air which has pollution levels exceeding the legal limits established by the European Union.
This represents roughly 36 per cent of the population. However, the percentage could be even higher – 95 per cent – if World Health Organisation standards are taken into consideration, warned Ecologistas en Accion, a confederation of more than 300 Spanish ecological groups, in its annual air quality report, which looked at data from 2013.
This high percentage is consistent with a study on air quality carried out by the European Environment agency, according to which close to 90 per cent of the urban population in Europe is exposed to air pollutants considered by the World Health Organisation to be detrimental to humans’ health, including nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, tropospheric ozone and particulate matter (a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air).
According to international health authorities, the number of premature deaths in Spain total 20,000 a year as a result of complications resulting from air pollution, said a report coordinator.