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Bad atmosphere in the Alps

Dismal record: CO2 levels in April 2014 were higher than ever before. © Pfala, flickr

Never before have atmospheric CO2 levels been as high as those recorded in April 2014. Many Alpine valleys are suffering from poor air quality. This puts the health of many people in the Rhône-Alpes Region at risk - lower motorway speeds can be part of the solution.

April 2014 saw the highest CO2 levels in the atmosphere since records began. There are also high levels of other pollutants. In its report in 2013 on air quality for the Rhône-Alpes Region, the French “Air Rhône-Alpes” Observatory concludes that the limit values for particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (among others) are not being met. One quarter of the residents of the region are exposed to harmful levels of ozone, with 150,000 people affected by excessive levels of particulate matter, especially in the Arve Valley in the Chambéry agglomeration and in Albertville. One of the measures intended to improve air quality is that the agglomeration of Grenoble will get an air-quality protection plan this summer.

Above-average particulate matter levels were recorded along the major transport axes in particular. Limiting motorway speeds to 100 km/h substantially contributes to improving air quality. A study of autobahns in Tyrol backs this conclusion: driving at 100 km/h reduces pollutants by up to 15% compared to a speed of 130 km/h. To ensure that the EU limits are met, however, will require further measures in addition to speed limits, such as a general temporary ban on heavy goods vehicles.

Source and further information: http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/canali/energiaeambiente/rifiuti/2014/04/30/aprile-2014-il-mese-piu-inquinato-della-storia_1cfde261-45c6-4b75-a309-6d95ce38cb82.html (it), http://www.tt.com/home/8314712-91/tempo-100-bringt-mehr-als-sektorales.csp (de), https://tirol.gruene.at/artikel/schwarz_auf_weiss-_tempo_100_bringts (de), http://www.actu-environnement.com/ae/news/qualite-air-rhone-alpes-pollution-pm10-reste-preoccupante-21476.php4#xtor=ES-6 (fr), http://www.datapressepremium.com/rmdiff/2007506/DP-AIR-RHONE-ALPES-OK.pdf (fr), http://www.srf.ch/meteo/meteo-news/neuer-hoechstwert-der-co2-konzentration (de)

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