Ecologists in Action, the confederation of over 300 Spanish ecological groups, says that the whole of the population of Majorca is breathing air in spring and summer that has been contaminated with ozone. The same applies to the rest of the Balearics with the exception of Ibiza Town.
Levels of ozone are higher than those recommended by the World Health Organization, while 13% of the Balearic population (around 150,000 people) live in areas where pollution exceeds values permitted in Spain: the Tramuntana mountains are among these areas.
There are, therefore, consequences for health and the environment. Tropospheric ozone is an air pollutant which each year affects more people. It comes from pollution created by the main towns, by ports, airports and motorways, and by power stations. Pollutants emitted in large and concentrated urban areas extend to more remote and rural areas in the form of tropospheric ozone. This is why the mountains, where there is relatively little urbanisation or concentration of vehicles, are among the most affected areas.
According to Ecologists in Action, ozone pollution should be treated as a major health risk. The European Environment Agency estimates that 1,800 premature deaths in Spain are related to the exposure to levels of pollution like those recorded in the Balearics. Children, the elderly and people with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions are all liable to be affected.
The confederation urges an increase in public transport and a drastic reduction in the use of power stations to generate electricity. At present, it observes, the Balearic government is failing to abide by law in not developing plans to improve air quality so as to cut the ozone in the most affected areas.
Its report also points to the effects of climate change, noting that ozone doesn't have a direct human source but is formed in the lower atmosphere in the presence of solar radiation from the combination of other pollutants.