Top 3 European cities with best and worst air quality

Air pollution is the world’s greatest risk to environmental health and it causes approximately 7 million premature deaths worldwide each year. Despite policies to improve air quality, this pollution still poses a health risk in some European cities. In this blogpost we’ll take a look at the top three European cities with the best and worst air quality, ranked by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Air Pollution

Air pollution: world’s greatest health risk

Air pollution refers to the presence of substances in the atmosphere being detrimental to the human health and other living creatures. Examples of these substances are gases (such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, carbon dioxide, and chlorofluorocarbons), fine particulates (both organic and inorganic), and biological molecules.

Fine particulate matter

Fine particulate matter (e.g. diesel exhaust) is a significant problem contributing to over 3.2 million premature deaths per year globally. The particles in this gas are so small that they settle in the lungs and then enter the bloodstream.

Vehicles emissions in Europe

Also in Europe road vehicles are on of the biggest cause of premature deaths, which are estimated at 430.000-800.000 annually. Research estimates that air pollution in the European Union reduces life expectancy by nearly nine months. Causes of death include stroke, heart disease, COPD, lung cancer and lung infections.

European Environment Agency

The European Union has a “European Environment Agency” (EEA) whose task is to provide sound, independent information on the environment. They aim to support sustainable development by helping to achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe’s environment, through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policymaking agents and the public.


Although air quality has improved significantly in recent years, air pollution remains far too high in many cities across Europe. Thanks to this city air quality viewer, citizens can see for themselves in a user-friendly way how their city is doing compared to others in the field of air pollution.”
~ Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director


Since the new policy, air quality in Europe has improved over the past three decades. Yet too many European cities are still exposed to air pollution. Therefore, the EEA launched the European city air quality viewer. On this site you can check the air quality in your city for over the past two years and compare it with other European cities.

Europe’s cleanest and most polluted cities

The European city air quality viewer ranks cities from the cleanest city to the most polluted. These data are from 323 cities in 2019 and 2020 and show that in only 40% levels PM 2.5 were below the World Health Organization recommended limits.

Find below the top three cleanest and most polluted cities in Europe in terms of air quality, from 2019 – 2020.


  1. Umea (Sweden)
  2. Tampere (Finland) –
  3. Funchal (Portugal)


  1. Nowy Sącz (Poland)
  2. Cremona (Italy)
  3. Slavonski Brod(Croatia)

Curious about the air in your city? Click on the image below to find out.

European city air quality viewer

This blog mainly talked about outdoor air quality and its effects. Did you know also indoor air can be lead to the Sick Building Sydnrome? Find out more here.