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Analysis of the diversity in emissions of selected gaseous and particulate pollutants in the European Union countries

Brodny, Jarosław, Tutak, Magdalena
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.231 pp. 582-595
European Union, air pollutants, air pollution, ammonia, decision making, development policy, dust, emissions, environmental protection, human health, humans, longevity, nitrogen oxides, particulates, sulfur oxides, sustainable development
The article presents the analysis results of the grouping of the European Union countries with regard to emission levels of gaseous pollutants (NH3, NMVOCs, SOx, NOx) and particulate air pollutants (PM10 and PM2.5) which are one of the most dangerous type of pollution for human health. Their long-lasting effects on the human body may negatively affect health and life expectancy. The analysis was based on the taxonomic method of grouping data using the K-means method which is a non-hierarchical method. The analysis used the data published by Eurostat. Organizing countries into categories of emissions of gaseous and dust pollutants to the atmosphere was conducted for four cases: the total level of emission, the level of emissions related to the GDP, the area, and per capita. The Euclidean distance was a measure of the distance between Member States. The obtained results indicate that, depending on the adopted criterion, there is a significant change in the composition of individual clusters. This confirms the assumptions of the Authors who claimed that in order to develop a more comprehensive analysis and assessment of the state of atmospheric pollution in EU countries it is necessary to include additional criteria, other than only the total emission of a given pollution. The objective of the research was to indicate that the analysis of emissions of selected type of pollution, and at the same time most threatening to human health, does not fully reflect the actual state of the problem when presented only in terms of the emitted amount. It is therefore appropriate for EU institutions to take more account of the differences between the individual countries in terms of the criteria presented in the paper, during the decision-making process concerning the sustainable development policy in the field of environmental protection.