Alicante, like most large Spanish cities, has not launched a effective protocol against episodes of air pollution. The hecho, only fifteen urban areas have them -when the concentration of air pollutants exceeds sanitary or legal levels- and also none is adapted to the state framework protocol approved in 2021, as Ecologistas en Acción warns today.
This is the situation despite the fact that, in 2007 the state law on air quality and protection of the atmosphere forced the adoption of this type of instrument to protect public health in all agglomerations and municipalities with a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants (currently sixty-four), according to the organization, in a press release. These are the Asturian cities of Aviles, Gijon and Oviedo (by means of an autonomous protocol) and of the city councils of A Coruña, Barcelona, Gijón, León, Madrid, Murcia, Seville, Valencia, Valladolid and Zaragozain addition to the main towns of the metropolitan areas of Barcelona and Madridapplying regional protocols.
cities without protocol
Cities as important as AlicanteBilbao, Cartagena, Córdoba, Elche, Granada, Málaga, Palma, Las Palmas, Pamplona, Santa Cruz, Vigo or Vitoria “lack protocols against episodes of contamination”, despite the fact that the Government and the autonomous communities approved in July 2021 the short-term Framework Action Plan for air pollution episodes.
The few protocols against episodes of poor air quality in force to date are “very different, both in terms of the pollutants considered (generally particles and/or nitrogen dioxide) and in the thresholds for the application of the measures and the scope of the same, which should incorporate immediate and extensive restrictions on the movement of cars or the point sources responsible for the episodes, in each case”.
The environmental organization explains that episodes of air pollution are responsible in Spain for more than 10,000 premature deaths each year, according to the Carlos III Health Institute and the Ministry of Health. “Pollution has a very relevant short-term impact on health, which six-folds the mortality from traffic accidents.” The organization recalls, in the note, that the publication this week of a Royal Decree reiterates the obligation to apply instruments against pollution in all autonomous communities and in municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants at risk of suffering episodes of poor air quality.
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It is a positive initiative, although “it does not establish a maximum approval period, except for the adaptation of the protocols in force or in preparation to the State Framework Action Plan, which should be addressed by the administrations responsible for them in this month of January “, warns Ecologists in Action. Said Royal Decree that modifies the regulations for the improvement of air quality, establishes minimum activation, information and alert thresholds for the main air pollutants, among which alert thresholds appear for the first time for the most dangerous pollutants, although they are higher than those set by the World Health Organization (WHO), “so they are insufficient”, laments the environmental group.