NEW YORK – A new study placed Athens at the top of the list for biggest improvement in air quality among European capitals citing a 34.85% drop in air pollutants from 2019 to 2021, Uswitch.com reported. The city was the second most polluted capital in 2019, registering 83.94 units of PM2.5 (an air pollutant damaging to our lungs when levels in the air are high). Despite that, Athens has witnessed the greatest increase in air quality between 2019 and 2020 with a striking 42.93% plunge in air pollutants – possibly a result of the pandemic as industrial activities slowed.
Falling 10.1% behind Athens, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin, is the second European capital where air pollution levels are significantly plummeting – a 24.76% decrease from 2019 to 2021. Air pollution in the Irish capital has dropped 32.8% between 2019 and 2020 before a 12% increase over the following year.
In third comes Stockholm. The capital of Sweden, also the most populous city among the Nordics, saw an 18.05% drop in air pollutants across the three year period. Unlike Athens and Dublin, which see smog returning to both cities in 2021 as the economy resumes, Stockholm continues to maintain an upward shift in air quality with a 5.5% decrease in air pollutants between 2020 and 2021.
Nicosia, Cyprus also made the list in eighth place with a decrease of 10.31% in air pollution.
Unfortunately, air quality decreased for some cities. Reykjavík, Iceland is suffering the worst drop in air quality, as it sits at the bottom of the list with a 13.99% increase in air pollutants from 2019 to 2021. Despite that, the famous ‘land of fire and ice’ is found to have the least amount of harmful fine particles (PM2.5) out of all cities analyzed – averaging only 14.65 units over three years.
Merely 1.75% apart from Reykjavík is the spa capital of the world, Budapest, Hungary. Ranking second highest in its increase in air pollutants at 12.24%, air pollution levels were found to have steadily risen even during 2020, the year of lockdowns. Placing one rank above, at 22nd, is the Estonian capital, Tallinn, with air pollutants increasing 1.18% less than Budapest at 11.06%.
In the 18th spot, Oslo, Norway is the first to see a drop in air quality from 2019 to 2021 among the 24 cities analyzed, with a slim 0.06% increase in air pollutants. Following behind are Bratislava, Slovakia and Warsaw, Poland in 19th and 20th place respectively, as both witnessed an air pollutant rise of 2.63% on average between 2019 and 2021.
Uswitch energy expert, Ben Galizzi, commented on how to reduce air pollution levels: “Improving your energy efficiency isn’t as hard as you might think. You can help tackle air pollution by making a few simple changes to your home and lifestyle. Using energy-efficient bulbs and appliances in your home may sound like a small thing, but they’re an easy way to reduce your energy emissions, not to mention your bills! Switching to an electric car provides an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fuel-powered vehicles. With lots of high-quality, cost-effective home charging options now available, going electric is easier than ever.”
The full study is available online: https://www.uswitch.com/electric-car/ev-charging/EU-capitals-with-reduced-air-pollution/.