Marbella and Malaga city have a very different air

3 June 2014

Even though Malaga and Marbella are only 60 miles away, the air quality they their inhabitants breathe is very far from similar. The latest findings published in Geneva by the World Health Organization regarding the concentration of suspended particles of the air in the main cities in the world placed the two towns in the province of Malaga in very different positions. Malaga came out as the third most polluted city in Spain, while Marbella was handed third place in the ranking of the cleanest air in Spain.

The study analyzes the presence of specific fine particles, which are more harmful to the human body since they are able to transfer directly into the lungs. These are known as PM 2.5 (2.5 microns diameter), which are present in the air. But their analysis is not required in Spain and the official measurements performed by the Ministry of Environment in Andalucía only measure the concentrations of PM10, which are bigger. All Malaga towns fare well in regards to these.

Environmental technicians said that Malaga is "within normal limits" regarding this type of pollution, with high peaks of ozone concentration in some places and days. The recommended annual limit is 50 micrograms per day for larger particles and 25 micrograms in the case of the smallest. Although far from the limit, the city of Malaga recorded 17 micrograms in the WHO report, second only Toledo and La Línea de la Concepción. Large Spanish capital cities have a slightly cleaner air than Malaga. Madrid recorded 11, Bilbao 13, Valencia 14 and Barcelona has 16.

The reason for this pollution is to be found in the high dependency that exists for solid fuels and coal burning and the excessive use of motor vehicles and homes that waste energy, according to WHO. Technicians from the Junta added that the high level of traffic in a city like Malaga, and the low rainfall or the periodic air coming from the Saharan desert can explain the high levels of suspended particles’ concentration.

Marbella does not have these problems. It is a smaller town with less traffic, somehow protected against the intrusion of contaminants. According to WHO, it is the third cleanest city in Spain, with 7 micrograms per cubic meter, second only to Las Palmas and Arrecife.