MADRID, June 23 — About 44.7 million Spaniards, making up 95 percent of the population, breathe air with contamination levels above those recommended by the World Health Organization, according to a report published by the pressure group, Ecologists in Action on Tuesday.
The report, entitled "The air quality in the Spanish State during 2014", was based on samples taken from 702 official contamination control centers in 135 different areas of Spain, taking into account three separate criteria: the maximum pollution levels recommended by the WHO, the long term objective to protect vegetation which is established by the European Union and the legal limits established by the EU.
At the presentation of the report in Madrid, its author, Miguel Angel Ceballos said traffic in Spain's cities was the main cause of atmospheric pollution, along with some industrial plants, especially power stations, cement producers and chemical plants.
He also said that according to the European Environmental Agency, air pollution causes 27,000 premature deaths in Spain every year.
The report stresses that according to WHO guidelines 95 percent of the population breathes contaminated air and that 94 percent of Spain (474,000 square kilometers) fails to meet the recommendations of the organization.
However it should also be pointed out that using the less strict EU guidelines, the number is rather lower, although 15.5 million Spaniards living in 236,300 square kilometers are still breathing what is considered to be polluted air.
The most dangerous particles for health are the suspended particles PM10 and PM2.5, as well as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Sulphur dioxide (SO2).
The Spanish capital of Madrid registered higher than WHO limits of 10 micrograms per cubic meter in PM2.5, as did a large part of the Catalan region, Asturias, Andalusia and Mallorca, while Barcelona, most of the Community of Madrid, Andalusia and large areas of the south-east coastal regions exceeded the WHO level of 20 micrograms per cubic meter for PM10.
Finally the WHO maximum recommended level of 40 micrograms per square meter was passed in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Murcia and Granada, affecting around 9.8 million people. (PNA/Xinhua)