Ozone pollution in Spain, how it affects us.

This article points out how it affects Spain ozone pollution, how it is formed and what citizens can do to combat it.


Ozone is the air pollutant affecting more people and territory of this country.

80% of the Spanish population and 92% of the country this year have been exposed to ozone pollution levels that exceed those recommended by the World Health Organization. This fact was recently pointed out in a report that recalls the damage to the environment and health of people of this substance, which affects more population and territory.


This is how ozone pollution affects Spain

Four out of five citizens in Spain (more than 37 million people) have breathed air polluted by ozone so far in 2016, according to a report of Ecologists in Action on this pollutant. One of its authors, Juan Barcena, says it is the air pollutant affecting more people and territory (464,000 km2, 92% of the total).

Spain is one of the European countries most exposed to ozone pollution

As it is colourless and odourless, it goes unnoticed, but ozone causes irritation of mucous membranes and lung tissues, headaches, chest pains, etc. and reduces life expectancy. Children, the elderly and, in general, people with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are the most affected. According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), Spain is the European country most times exceeds the long-term goals to prevent ozone pollution set to protect health.

Bárcena explains that this to occur when there is a strong solar radiation, so that in this country occurs during March to October when excessive values are recorded, although the worst data occur between June and September.

Derivatives healthcare costs, based on World Bank data, are estimated at around 5,000 million euros per year, 0.33% of Spanish GDP, excluding damage on crops and natural ecosystems. In this sense, it reduces crop productivity, which can drop to 40%, according Ecologists in Action. The EEA stood out in 2014 to Italy and Spain as the two European countries with the greatest damage on agriculture, affecting 122,000 km2 area of this country, two thirds of the cultivated area.


The report is based on official data from 455 measurement stations across Spain between 1 January and 15 October.


Pollutant ozone, how it is formed?

Emissions of other pollutants called "precursors", produced by the traffic, large thermal power plants and certain industrial activities are transformed into ozone in the presence of sunlight. The report also notes the impact of climate change, because "most likely the upward trend in summer average temperatures and heat waves."

In the higher layers of the atmosphere, ozone protects us from the harmful effects of solar ultraviolet radiation, but at ground level (hence be called tropospheric ozone) has negative effects on health and the environment.

Bárcena explains that it is more difficult to monitor than the other air pollutants. "The highest peaks occur where people do not expect, and there is such a direct link between the emission sources and where it accumulates. High values are recorded in Segovia, Toledo or Guadalajara and are due largely to those pollutants produced within the Madrid capital. It is similar in Catalonia with locations near Barcelona ".

The expert from Ecologists in Action notes that the transport phenomena occur hundreds of kilometres away from the actual source so it is required important that this phenomenon is studied better. "The network of official measurement has been designed for urban areas, but ozone is much worse in places away from large cities. For example, data recorded for other studies in Pico Peñalara, between Madrid and Segovia, point to a much higher values than in stations within the Community of Madrid, "he says.


What can we citizens do?

Citizens can carry out various actions to combat ozone pollution:

• Reclaiming administrations mandatory plans to improve air quality and short-term action: a dozen autonomous regions (Andalusia, Aragon, Balearic Islands, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Valencia, Extremadura , Madrid, Murcia, Navarra and the Basque Country) continue without having any type of an action plan.

• Require the authority’s agile and more comprehensible information for the general public: Bárcena said that "the autonomous communities provide data for experts, but do not informed well the general public. They have to inform by law to the population as soon as 180 micrograms per m3 of air are exceeded, but they limit themselves to a press release the following day, and in Extremadura, Galicia and the Basque Country they do not even do that ".

• Walk, use bicycle and public transport daily to reduce emissions.

• Reduce electricity consumption, improve thermal insulation of our houses, use water-based paints and avoid organic solvents.


In other words the less we pollute the better for everyone.

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