Belgian cities meet Europe’s fine-particle norms, but most fail WHO’s standards
Wednesday, 06 March 2019
Belgium meets European norms for the concentration of fine particles in the air, but many of its cities fail to comply with World Health Organisation (WHO) air standards. These are among the conclusions of the just-released “World’s most polluted cities 2018” report compiled by AirVisual at the request of the Southeast Asia regional office of Greenpeace.
In the report’s section on Belgium, the West Flanders city of Oostrozebeke “occupies an astonishing first place, with the highest average annual concentration of fine particles,” Greenpeace Spokesman Joeri Thijs said. This was partly because of a measuring point located in an industrial area close to chip-board factories and did not mean Oostrozebeke was generally more polluted than, for example, 10th-placed Ghent or Antwerp (14th).
While the report is less interesting for making comparisons between Belgian cities and towns, its general conclusion is relevant, according to Greenpeace. “Belgium is not obtaining good results in Europe in terms of fine particles and in many places, we are still not managing to respect World Health Organization standards,” Thijs noted.
The WHO standard is an average annual concentration of fine particles of 10 microgrammes per cubic metre, whereas the European norm is 25 microgrammes per m3. The 46 Belgian communes covered in the report met the less stringent European standard, but only seven, all located in the Ardennes, were compliant with the WHO standard.
Generally speaking, 98 of the world’s 100 most polluted cities are in Asia, overwhelmingly in India and China, with smaller numbers in countries such as in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The record holder is the Indian town of Gurugram, where the concentration of fine particles in the air is 135.8 microgrammes per m3.
At the other end of the scale, Scandinavian countries such as Iceland and Finland, along with Australia, recorded the lowest particle levels.