The World Daily
New study finds 300,000 in Europe die annually from air pollution

Smog in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Carolina Pimenta on Unsplash


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | NOVEMBER 15th 2021


Though the number of deaths related to air pollution have fallen by 10% annually over recent time, the yearly death totals are still too high according to the European Environment Agency (EEA), with over 300,000 premature deaths related to smog reported annually in 2019.

Back in 2018, the number of premature deaths that had been linked to fine particulate matter pollution had been estimated to be at around 346,000. According to a recent study, however, this number has only fallen to 307,000 as of recent.

“Investing in cleaner heating, mobility, agriculture and industry delivers better health, productivity and quality of life for all Europeans and especially for the most vulnerable,” said Hans Bruyninckx, EEA executive director, in a statement.

Of the recorded data, the analysis had also managed to narrow down that around 16,800 of the recorded annual premature deaths were also caused by acute ozone exposure. An issue that goes hand-in-hand with that of polluted air.

Bruyninckx added: “These investments save lives and also help accelerate progress towards carbon neutrality and strong biodiversity.”

The report looked into how the number of deaths related to air pollution changed over time as well, with figures going back to the 1990s revealing that the polluted fine particulate matter had caused around a million premature deaths over that period in 27 EU member states.

By the time it was 2005, this figure had been halved down to 450,000 annual deaths. The EU is currently hoping to cut down the number of premature deaths due to fine air pollution by at least 55 percent by 2030 as compared to 2005 data.

The EEA has stated that it might be possible, since if air pollution continues to fall at the current rate, then the target may be achieved by 2032 – only two years ahead of the target. The rest may depend on the efforts of the EU nations.  


“Compared to 2005, in 2019, premature deaths attributed to exposure to fine particulate matter decreased by 33 per cent in the EU-27. If this rate of reducing premature deaths is maintained going forward, then the EU is expected to reach the Zero Pollution Action Plan target,” they wrote in the report.

There may be difficulties still, however, as they also predict that there may be complications related to an ageing and increasingly urbanised population.

“An older population is more sensitive to air pollution and a higher rate of urbanisation typically means that more people are exposed to PM 2.5 concentrations, which tend to be higher in cities,” the report added.

“Even with improvements in air quality over the past years in our region, we still have a long way to go to achieve the levels in the new WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines,” said WHO regional director for Europe, Hans Henri P Kluge.

He added: “To breathe clean air should be a fundamental human right. It is a necessary condition for healthy and productive societies.” 


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2021 

Source: AFP, The Independent