May 17, 2022 6:57 am

Worrying! The Spanish cities with the worst air quality in 2021

Yurima Celdran 5 min
European cities could prevent up to 51,000 premature deaths a year if they met the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines.

From the data of the European Environment Agency (AEMA), the Sustainability Observatory (YOU) has analyzed the evolution in the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and coarse (PM10) and fine (PM2.5) particulate matter in the largest Spanish cities during the course of the year 2021.

In order to establish reference values ​​for air quality, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set limits on the concentrations of the main air pollutants that pose risks to human health: 10 µg/m³ annual average and 25 µg/m³ daily average for NO2 , 24 daily average for PM10 and 5 µg/m³ annual average and 15 µg/m³ daily average for PM2.5.

In which cities do they breathe the most harmful air?

The cities with the highest concentration of pollutants are those that make up larger urban areas, with a large population and in correspondence with larger car parks, as is the case of Madrid, Barcelona, ​​the coast of Malaga and Zaragoza.


Its main emission sources are anthropogenic; mainly heating, electricity generation and vehicle and ship engines. Its effects on health as a result of epidemiological studies have revealed that bronchitis symptoms in asthmatic children increase in relation to prolonged exposure to NO2 .

town Concentration (µg / m³) population
Leganes 32,5 189.861
Mollet del Vallès 30,6 51.318
Coslada 29,7 81.661
Madrid 29,2 3.266.126
Terrace 28,1 220.556
Getafe 28,1 183.374
Granollers 26,6 61.275
Granada 26,3 232.462
Alcala de Henares 24,5 195.649
Barcelona 24 1.636.762
In absolute terms, the Spanish cities most polluted by NO2 .Source: EFE.

In 2021, the average values ​​recorded reached 19.7 µg/m³, exceeded by 8.7 µg/m³ the levels recorded in the period of maximum confinement. The cities that have contributed the most to the increase in nitrogen dioxide, from greater to lesser influence, have been Leganés, Mollet del Vallès, Coslada, Madrid, Terrassa, Getafe, Granollers, Granada, Alcalá de Henares and Barcelona.

particulate matter

Regarding PM2.5, the cities with the highest concentrations in the past year have been Marbella, Granada, Granollers, Barcelona and Murcia. In Granada, the high levels of pollution are due to a very specific atmospheric regime that, similar to what happens in Ourense, favors the concentration of polluting particles as large masses of air remain stable over its urban areas.

From the Sustainability Observatory they point out the worrying level of existing contamination in the main metropolitan areas, highlighting the upward trend in small towns due to the increase in NO concentrations2. They conclude by placing special emphasis on the last months of 2021, when the concentrations of atmospheric pollutants increased exponentially.

Recommendations to improve air quality

The current challenge facing the world’s most important capitals is that of ensure that pollution levels are comparable to adequate air quality, similar to that of the 2020 confinement, but without being without human and industrial activity.

Sustainable mobility in cities must be promoted and improved to prevent the problem of air pollution from escalating.

In this sense, recommends the need to reduce the use of private vehicles, establish pedestrian zones, promote the use of bicycles, motorcycles and electric cars and reinforce the public transport, which should be free during peak pollution periods.

What’s more, should reduce emissions from large industries (even those located kilometers away), incinerators, industrial estates, waste management and domestic heating.

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.