World Bulletin / New Desk
Air pollution is shortening lives by almost two years in parts of the European Union, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) said, strengthening the case for a tightening of emissions restrictions in the bloc.
Legislation had managed to cut the amount of some toxins belched out by exhaust fumes and chimneys across Europe, according to an EEA report published on Monday.
But there were still dangerous levels of microscopic particles, known as particulate matter and linked to diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular problems, it added.
On average, air pollution was reducing human lives across the region by roughly eight months, the report said. It also quoted separate European Commission-funded research showing that a reduction in particulate levels could extend life expectancy by 22 months in some areas.
The report did not spell out where those areas were, but it said that Poland and other industrial regions of eastern Europe had particularly high levels or particulate pollution.
Alone among British cities, London also exceeded daily EU limits for particulate matter.
Speaking after the launch of the report, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said that a review of EU air quality laws next year needed to bring EU limits on pollution levels closer to the stricter World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on safe levels of pollutants.
"This (the report) is a really serious warning about the importance to our quality of life and health," Potocnik told Reuters.
Apart from the impact on health, EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said that the pollution costs the bloc 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) a year in healthcare and dealing with the wider impact on ecosystems.
"European Union policy has reduced emissions of many pollutants over the last decade, but we can go further," she said.
OZONE ANOTHER CHALLENGE
Particulate matter is considered to be the most serious air pollution risk in Europe. Using the most recent data from 2010, the report said 21 percent of the bloc's urban population was exposed to larger particulate matter at concentrations above a daily EU limit.
Up to 30 percent of city dwellers faced exposure to finer particles above the yearly EU target level. These finer particles are small enough to pass from the lungs into the bloodstream, making them particularly hazardous to health.
Another major air pollutant is ozone, which can cause respiratory problems. Again, exposure levels were high, with sunny Mediterranean nations particularly affected because sunlight is needed to form ozone.
In 2010, 97 percent of EU inhabitants were exposed to ozone above the WHO reference levels - and 17 percent above the much lower EU target level.
The pollutants come from fumes from cars, industry and household fuel burning.
After going through complex chemical reactions in the air, the pollutants get into water and agricultural land, thereby posing a threat to agricultural production.
While many pollutants are an unremitting problem, there has been success in dealing with sulphur dioxide, whose levels have dropped following laws on sulphur content in fuels.
In 2010, the EU urban population for the first time was not exposed to sulphur dioxide above the EU limit level.
Scientists had to abseil and scubadive to get into the caves, some of which are around 50 metres deep (165 feet). They found wall paintings and bone fragments left by the indigenous Kawesqar people that could help date the caves.
Asteroids have broken apart many times over the eons, but never before have scientists been able to witness it.
Should these ships become a reality, a total of 44% of expenses could be cut from operating cargo ships, according to industry consultant Moore Stephens LLP.
Earthuquake lights sometimes appear in the sky before an earthquake takes place and are often mistaken for UFOs.
Remains of the new species were unearthed in Portugal by an amateur fossil hunter in 2003 in the rock cliffs of Lourinhã
The females of an Asian swallowtail butterfly species known as the Common Mormon often mimic the appearance of another species of butterfly that is toxic for predators to eat
Scientists from Turkey designed 'the smart infrared cameras' to deal with dense fog related flight delays which cause thousands of flights to be postponed or cancelled each year.
Artificial muscles can bear 117 times more than natural muscles.
Scientific works by students aged between 11 and 15 in invention and design categories will take part in the olympiad.
GCHQ collected images from the webcam chats of more than 1.8 million users globally in a six-month period in 2008 alone
NASA'a Kelper telescope has discovered 715 new planets outside of our solar system.
The vault, which was designed to withstand all disasters, was opened in 2008 in order to store an adequate amount of seeds which would enable the human species to revive lost crops in the event of global disaster.
A cybersecurity firm said that it uncovered stolen credentials from some 360 million accounts that are available for sale on cyber black markets
NASA says about 100 tons of material from space enter Earth's atmosphere every day. The moon, with no protective atmosphere, is fair game for celestial pot-shots
"When or if the NSA blurs the line between its defensive and intelligence-gathering roles and exploits a position of trust, that's a problem," head of security pioneer RSA said
Co-founder of WhatsApp announces that telephone calls can be made via WhatsApp.