Air quality of acceptable standard in only a few places in Brussels

Air quality is of an acceptable standard in only a few places in the Belgian capital, according to a recent study by Ecolo and Groen (Belgium’s ‘Green’ political parties).

A mere 8 out of 250 examined sites in the Brussels Region were found to have nitrogen dioxide levels below the limit of 20 micrograms/m³ recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), Ecolo and Groen reported on Thursday.

Even worse, nearly 30% of all analysed areas exceeded the current EU standard of 40 μg/m³, a 21% rise compared to last year.

Many schools also affected

Unsurprisingly, the places with the worst air quality were found near the busiest roads, including Botanique, Avenue de Tervuren, Place Sainctelette, and Rue Belliard. However, the pollution generated by traffic is a problem throughout the region, say Ecolo and Groen.

Particularly worrisome is the fact that high levels of air pollution were found near several schools, such as the Saint-Gilles Parvis (49 μg/m³), the Sacré-Coeur College of Ganshoren (48 μg/m³), and the primary school Sint-Joris (44 μg/m³).

As expected, the greenest communes in Brussels achieved better results, although the surroundings of some parks and kindergartens still exceeded the WHO’s recommended standard.

Ecolo and Groen’s recommendations

In response, Ecolo and Groen have called for a reduction in car traffic, more green spaces, better insulated buildings, more infrastructure for cyclists and public transport, the completion of the RER train network, and the replacement of the company car by a mobility budget for workers. They also oppose the expansion of the Brussels ring.