Air pollution levels in eight of Malta’s main roads significantly exceed the limit set by the EU, data shows.

The most polluted street of all was St Anne Street, in Floriana with an annual nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration of 61.6 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3), according to the data compiled last year and recently tabled in parliament.

EU rules state that the NO2 annual mean value should not exceed 40 µg/m3, meaning the Floriana road was well above the limit.

Seven other streets across Malta were also found to exceed the EU’s limit, the figures show.

Swieqi’s St Andrews Road had the second-highest nitrogen dioxide levels at 55.6 µg/m3 while, unsurprisingly, Marsa’s busy Aldo Moro Road was the third-most polluted junction with NO2 levels of 54.4 µg/m3.

Five other streets – Ħamrun’s St Joseph High Street, Luqa’s St Thomas Street, Paola’s Kordin Street, Rabat’s Saqqajja Hill and Żebbuġ’s Mdina Road – also went over the EU limit.

Air pollution cause of premature death

According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution is a major cause of premature death and disease and is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe.

Heart disease and stroke are the most common reasons for premature deaths attributable to air pollution, followed by lung diseases and lung cancer.

Nitrogen dioxide primarily gets in the air from the burning of fuel and forms from emissions from cars, trucks and buses and power plants.

High levels of NO2 in the air increase the chances of asthma attacks and respiratory complaints that lead to hospitalisation.

Earlier this month, Times of Malta reported that congestion, noise and air pollution from traffic are costing Malta some €400 million annually. This amounts to 3.6 per cent of the island’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Least polluted streets are in Gozo

Meanwhile, according to the data, the least polluted streets were Ġużè Ebejer Street, in Dingli and Church Street, in Żebbuġ, Gozo. Both streets registered an NO2 level of just 5.8 µg/m3 in 2021.

The figures also showed that most streets in Gozo had some of the lowest levels of NO2, with the only exception being Victoria’s Republic Street, where levels were just below the limit at 39 µg/m3.

The data was tabled in parliament by Environment Minister Miriam Dalli following a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Darren Carabott.

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