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Antwerp is one of 50 most-polluted cities on the planet

20:06 29/10/2018

According to a satellite imagery released by the European Space Agency (ESA), the city of Antwerp has the fourth-largest concentration of nitrogen dioxide in Europe and is in the top 50 of the world’s most polluted regions.

The imagery was analysed by Greenpeace Belgium, which reports that in Europe, only Greater London, the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, and the Nordrhein-Westfalen region of Germany have higher concentration of nitrogen dioxide than Antwerp.

Greenpeace created an interactive map based on the data. Aside from the four European regions, China dominates the top 50 – with 10 of the most-polluted areas – followed by India, the United States and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all with three.

While not as bad as Antwerp, a large part of Belgium has high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory problems, especially in children. West Flanders is quite clear as is most of Wallonia, outside of Charleroi and Liège. But Brussels, most of Flemish Brabant, most of East Flanders, all of Antwerp province and the northern half of Limburg are considered polluted.

One of the factors in Antwerp’s problem is the presence of the port and related industry. “But the high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide across so much of the country is mostly due to the number of diesel-fuelled cars that are on our roads,” says Joeri Thijs of Greenpeace. “For our health, and certainly the health of our children, that traffic is the biggest culprit. We are exposed to it from much closer by and much more often than emissions from the smokestacks at the port of Antwerp.”

Thijs says that the ESA imagery should serve as “a wake-up call” to politicians. “Antwerp politicians and those in the other larger cities shouldn’t push these findings under the carpet,” he says. “Our cities can take the lead in bidding a farewell to diesel-fuelled vehicles – and after that petrol-fuelled vehicles – and provide healthier mobility options with less traffic and better alternatives to the car.”

This article was modified slightly on 30 October

Written by Lisa Bradshaw



Stop putting all the blame on cars. The plants/factories etc. blast their polluted smoke straight into the air at night and/or weekends. I.e. whenever the inspectors aren't around. Antwerp happens to have a lot of this heavily-polluted industrial smoke but this happens everywhere in Belgium.

Oct 30, 2018 10:12

It is possible that there are far too many people living on planet Earth and not enough people making the maximum use of the resources that are around them. In the past one could locally work and shop in their local town or village and either go by foot or use a push bike. ANON3 is right, STOP blaming everything on cars. For the same journey if one uses a petrol vehicle compared to a diesel vehicle, the petrol car pollutes more because it needs to use double or more fuel for the same journey. Electric vehicles pollute more. Abolish some of the ridiculous speed limits that increase pollution levels and create traffic jams. Public transport services and agricultural vehicles also pollute the air. Allow more people to work from home or to work 3/4 days a week. Today's, vehicles have very powerful lights, so the government can therefore reduce the amount of street lighting and limit the time that the lights are burning. Nuclear power stations left over electricity 'energy/waste' could first be used by giving it back to the people free of charge so they can warm their houses without extra costs and then only one lot of polluted air ends up in our atmosphere instead of twice the amount.

Oct 30, 2018 12:49

yes...electric cars actually pollute more than small displacement gasoline powered cars...think i am kidding? ...research it for yourself. When you drive an electric car you simply move the pollution to somewhere else....politicians love this....the pollution is moved from the city to the place where the electricity is actually generated.

Nov 1, 2018 06:26