Pollution in Malta continues to be among the worst in Europe, with the island having the fourth highest levels of particles in the air compared to all Member States.

Data published in a study by the European Environment Agency (EEA) showed that the concentration of fine particulate matter concentration on a day-to-day basis stood at 50 micrograms per cubic metre in 2015, right on the EU daily limit value.

Bulgaria, Poland and Greece fare worse than Malta. 

The EEA analysed the data gathered by the individual member states, concluding that most EU residents are exposed to poor air quality, with fine particulate matter causing the premature death of some 400,000 people in Europe every year.

Through an analysis of different pollutants, the study – Air quality in Europe, 2017 – also found that in 2014 there were some 250 premature deaths attributed to pollutants in the air.

Malta needs to improve air quality in the urbanised areas

For the EEA, premature deaths are those that occur before a person reaches an expected age where the deaths are considered to be preventable if their cause can be eliminated.

According to the agency, road transport, agriculture, power plants, industries and households are the biggest emitters of air pollution.

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

Earlier this year, the European Commission said that Malta needed to improve air quality in the most urbanised areas by introducing systemic solutions to ease transport congestion.

As vehicle emissions continue to be the biggest source of pollution, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced last month that the government would be initiating consultation on setting a cut-off date beyond which all new cars would have to be electric.