The tropospheric ozone (O3), the pollutant that reaches its maximum levels in summer, has maintained its worrying levels during the months of 2018. The annual report of Ecologists in Action on ozone in Spain indicates that 11 million Spaniards, 25% of the total population, have been exposed to levels of this agent that do not meet the limits set by European regulations. If you take the values of the World Health Organization (WHO), the figure soars to 85% of the population and 92% of the territory.
Ozone protects from ultraviolet light in the stratosphere, but when it appears in the lower layers due to the burning of fossil fuels and other compounds it acts as a powerful and aggressive oxidizing agent, which very significantly affects health. It can cause respiratory problems and aggravate pre-existing cardiovascular diseases. Son attributable to this type of pollution 500 annual deaths in Spain. The latest data from the European Environment Agency reveal that there are 1,600 premature deaths due to this cause per year.
According to European regulations, you can not exceed 120 micrograms per cubic centimeter for eight consecutive hours and more than 25 days a year. The WHO is more severe and lowers the tolerable figure to 100 micrograms per cubic centimeter.
The data in this report, collected between January 1 and September 30 in 472 measurement stations across the country, show an increase of between 0.5 and 1.6 million people exposed to ozone pollution compared to evaluations of 2017, 2016 and 2015.
The figure implies that there have been around one million affected more than in 2017, 2016 and 2015, and five million more than in 2013 and 2014, says the environmental organization. Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, the Community of Madrid and the Region of Murcia have been the most affected. "On the other hand, the levels have been more moderate in the autonomous communities of the Bay of Biscay, the Ebro Valley, Castilla y León and the Canary Islands, and also in Andalusia, Valencian Country, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands," the ecologists point out.
The report adds that the maintenance of this pollutant is due "in the first instance" to the rebound in the burning of fossil fuels "coinciding with the improvement of the economy, the meteorological situation with a more rainy spring and the end of the warmer summer since 1965 , has concentrated ozone in the months of July, August and September, influenced by the increase in temperatures resulting from climate change.
Given the situation, Ecologists in Action calls on the Ministry for Ecological Transition (MITECO) to address the National Tropospheric Ozone Plan committed years ago, to which the Autonomous Communities refer to justify their inactivity. "The current Air II Plan is inoperative because it limits actions on ozone to conducting studies and improving measurement," they explain. Therefore, the environmental organization has sued the central government before the National Court.