Air Pollution Costs Billions to the European Union

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The European Environment Agency published a report on the cost and toll of air pollution due to industrial facilities to the European Union last November.

The costs are staggering as the 10,000 facilities induced up to 102 and 169 billion euros in 2009 alone.

However, only a small number of these plants are responsible for the vast majority of this pollution. The EEA notes:

Fifty per cent of the total damage cost occurs as a result of emissions from just 191 or 2 % of the approximately 10 000 facilities that reported data for releases to air.

Three quarters of the total damage costs are caused by the emissions of 622 facilities — 6 % of the total number.

This proves that solving the problem of industrial air pollution could be relatively easy.

The energy sector is the most polluting one as it is responsible for 66 to 112 billion euros of damages. Excluding carbon dioxide, the pollution still costs the 27 country members up to 26 to 71 billion euros.

Other sectors like production processes and manufacturing combustion are responsible for much less pollution, and thus much less induced: 23 to 28 billion euros and 8 to 21 billion euros respectively.

Meanwhile, the report notes that carbon dioxide contributes the most to the overall damage costs with approximately 63 billion euros in 2009. But this is not enough:

Air pollutants, which contribute to acid rain and can cause respiratory problems – sulphur dioxide (SO2), ammonia (NH3), particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) – were found to cause €38-105 billion of damage a year.

The bottom line: the European Union needs to change the way it is producing electricity and to improve its few remaining plants to get much cleaner air.

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About Author

Fascinated by sustainability and cleantech since 2004, Edouard wrote both his Bachelor of Arts' dissertation and Master's thesis on sustainable energy topics. He haven't stopped writing on these subjects ever since. A French Master's graduate in international management, Edouard has had several experiences in Marketing and Communications in Europe. He worked for firms as diverse as a German water treatment company, a leading French business school and lately a Belgian automation specialist. He is currently for hire globally. Since 2007 Edouard has been selecting for his own blog the latest headlines and best researches on sustainable development, climate change, cleantech and the world energy sector. With over 1,600 published articles, he is read all over the world. On Cleantechies, Edouard has been proposing since June 2009 news articles and opinion pieces on on French and European policies. Don't hesitate to contact him as he is always interested in discussing with new people.

1 Comment

  1. Ramakrishna Venkatasamy on

    I would say not the EU only. I am thinking of the drastic increase in lung/respiratory diseases related to air pollution and how many countries have had to increase facilities, staff and provide extra finances just to deal with this new scourge.

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