Bulgaria is ranking first in the EU in the number of people whose health is getting worse due to air pollution. These are the conclusions of the European Court of Auditors’ special report.

All EU Member States, except Estonia, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta, are breaching of one or more of the limit values for air pollution, points the report. Sofia and Krakow are among the most frequently given negative examples.

Bulgaria is a leader in lost years of potential life due to polluted air. The Bulgarian citizens have shortened by 2.5 years the expected lifetime, while on average for the European Union this indicator is 0.7 years. The Swedish and Finnish people enjoy the least lost years of health due to air pollution.

The analysis states that in Sofia, there has been almost no progress since 2009, excluding the replacement of old public vehicles with new ones. It is recalled that the EC in April 2017 won a case against Bulgaria because of air pollution above limits in a number of cities, but it took over six years.

The figures show that the Bulgarian capital has no projects for reducing pollutants from domestic heating, which is the main source of fine particulate matter (FPM). These are causing the most negative effects on air quality. Against this background, it gives us nearly 60 percent less money to tackle the problem compared to previous periods. The European Environment Bureau’s check also detects double standards when measuring the simulation.

In order to improve air quality in the EU, the auditors recommend that more effective actions should be taken by the European Commission; updating the Air Quality Directive; prioritising and mainstreaming air quality issues into other EU policies and improving public awareness.

The fight against air pollution in Europe dates back to the 1960s when it became clear that the problem can only be solved through international cooperation.

As a result, the first international legally binding instrument has been established to address the problems of air pollution on a broad regional basis, namely the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, drawn up by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in 1979.

Today, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone near the ground are the three pollutants that affect human health to the greatest extent.