VIII. THE EUROPEAN CONTEXT
In the period 2002–2011 the emissions of major pollutants in
Europe decreased which resulted in the improvement of ambient
air quality in the whole region at least as concerns some of the
pollutants. In some sectors emissions of some pollutants
increased, e.g. PM emissions from the combustion of fuels in the
commercial and institutional sectors and in households have
increased approx. by 7 % since the year 2002. At present this
sector is the main contributor to total PM emissions within the
European Union. The decrease of emissions resulted in a marked
decrease of SO2, CO and Pb concentrations. Nevertheless, with
regard to the complicated relation between emissions and air
polluting substances the decrease of emissions does not always
lead to the proportional decrease of concentrations, especially
in the case of PM and O3 (EEA 2013a).
The level of air pollution is markedly different in various parts of the CR. On the one hand there are the areas with very low air pollution levels similar to those in clean densely inhabited regions of Europe and the pollutants’ concentrations remain below the limit values. Nevertheless the lowest concentrations, e.g. of PM10 and PM2.5, measured in the CR are comparable with the concentrations in many European cities, i.e. the background concentrations in the CR are higher than those in the least loaded areas of Europe. On the other hand the agglomeration of Ostrava/Karviná/Frýdek-Místek ranks together with the adjacent area of the Republic of Poland among the most polluted European regions, and namely in terms of the surface of the area and the reached concentrations (Chapter IV). Transboundary transfer of polluted air between the CR and the neighbouring countries is most intensive in Silesia (more details see in Chapter V.3 and Blažek et al. 2013). Ostrava, as the representative of a big city, has occupied one of the top positions among the comparable big European cities in the long term as concerns PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations (Fig. VIII.1). Of course, the polluted air is transferred to the CR also in further areas, however, in these areas the mutual transboundary influence is much lower. There is another specific problem, and namely the long-range transfer of pollutants across the whole continent and beyond1.
The greatest problem in Europe, similarly as in the CR,
consists primarily in the above-the-limit concentrations of
suspended particles and benzo[a]pyrene. Particularly the
inhabitants of big cities and agglomerations are exposed to the
above-the-limit concentrations of NO2. The occurrence of
concentrations exceeding the limit values can be assumed also in
the countries which monitor the respective pollutants only in
the limited number of localities or do not monitor them at all,
or they do not report the data to the European database2. These primary pollutants from the local and regional sources of
emissions are followed by air pollution caused by secondary
aerosol and ozone; ozone concentrations, with regard to the
mechanism of its origin (see Chapter IV.4.3) increase from low
values in northern Europe to the highest concentrations mainly
in the states around the Mediterranean Sea (Fig. VIII.2).
On a European scale a large amount of European population are exposed to the above-the-limit concentrations. The EU member states reported the following data in 20113: 22–33 % of urban population exposed to the above-the-limit 24-hour concentrations of PM10, 20–31 % exposed to the above-the-limit annual concentrations of PM2.5, 22–31 % exposed to the abovethe-limit annual concentrations of benzo[a]pyrene, 14–18 % exposed to the above-the-limit concentrations of O3 and 5–13 % exposed the above-the-limit annual concentrations of NO2. The share of population exposed to the concentrations exceeding the WHO guideline values was even higher, and namely e.g. 91–96 % for PM2.5, 76–94 % for benzo[a]pyrene, 97–98 % for O3 and even 46–54 % for SO2 (EEA 2013a)4. The above-the-limit concentrations of suspended particles and benzo[a]pyrene affect most strongly the inhabitants of the central and eastern Europe, incl. the Balkan peninsula, the most polluted areas include also the Po lowland in northern Italy (Fig. VIII.3–6).
Fig. VIII.1 Average concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 in the
European cities with 250,000–350, 000 inhabitants
Fig. VIII.2 Concentrations of PM2.5, benzo[a]pyrene, NO2 (annual
average) and O3 (max. daily 8-hour average) in Europe, 2011 (Source:
Fig. VIII.3 36th highest value of maximum daily average of PM10 concentration, 2011 (Source: ETC/ACM 2013)
Fig. VIII.4 Annual mean concentrations of benzo[a]pyrene in Europe, 2011(Source: EEA 2013a)
Fig. VIII.5 Annual mean concentrations of NO2 in Europe, 2011(Source:
Fig. VIII.6 26th highest value of maximum daily 8-hour running average of ground-level ozone concentrations, 2011(Source: ETC/ACM 2013)
3By the deadline of the yearbook the summary data for the
year 2011 were available (EEA 2013a; ETC/ACM 2013).
4Information on population and vegetation exposure to PM10, PM2.5 and O3 concentrations in the respective European countries 2006–2011 see (ETC/ACM 2013).