Capital air quality among the best in Europe

A new study suggests air quality in the Capital is among the best in Europe. Pic: Julie Bull

A new study suggests air quality in the Capital is among the best in Europe. Pic: Julie Bull

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AIR quality in the Capital is among the best in the European Union, a study by French environmental organisation Respire found.

Air pollution never exceeded “normal” levels with only Cluj-Napoca in Romania achieving the same level.

Edinburgh was ranked second in the list of 100 “larger” cities in the EU. Meanwhile Glasgow came in at number 29 with 33 days of below-average air quality levels.

The report said that Edinburgh narrowly missed out on the top spot by Cluj as the Romanian city had slightly lower average levels in the analysed air pollution indicators.

Other UK cities to make the top ten were Coventry, Cardiff and Manchester ranked third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Polluting factors of nitrous dioxide, small particles and ozone levels, were tested to determine the average number of days per year the air quality is below normal and potentially unhealthy to breathe.

Respire, which works to improve air quality across Europe, said there was little between the top two.

“Cluj-Napoca is in front of Edinburgh because it had a better annual average of nitrous dioxide (16 microgrammes per cubic metre to 24 microgrammes per m3).

“The difference is very low for ozone – 51 microgrammes per m3 in Edinburgh, 53 microgrammes per m3 in Cluj-Napoca.”

However, the researchers noted that the machines used to measure air pollution in Cluj were not as sensitive as in other areas of Europe and could have skewed the results.

The research, which was published in partnership with French magazine We Demain, rated London at 86th, ahead some of the worst performing of Sofia in Bulgaria and Milan in Italy, which suffered 320 and 272 days respectively of poor air quality.

Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, questioned the report’s findings.

He said that the key pollution testing sites which are reported to Europe are not in the most polluted parts of Scotland’s cities.

“There are certainly cities in Europe with worse air pollution problems than Edinburgh and Glasgow, but this report gives a falsely reassuring picture,” he said.

“More than 2,000 people die each year in Scotland because of air pollution and both of
our biggest cities have official pollution zones where levels consistently break European and Scottish health standards. It is clearly no consolation that other places in Europe are worse off.

“We need much more action to reduce traffic levels if we are to solve the air pollution problems in urban areas.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government takes air quality extremely seriously and we welcome this report, showing our capital city has the second-best air quality in the whole of Europe.

“By working with Scotland’s 32 local authorities, we continue to make progress. We have made significant reductions in air pollutants since 1990 and further decreases are predicted, given our knowledge of the likely impacts of investment.”