Health: despite better air: around 240,000 deaths in the EU

Despite better air: around 240,000 dead in the EU

Cars, trucks and delivery vehicles head for the city center on Berlin’s Kaiserdamm. Photo

© Michael Kcaller/dpa

Stale air is deadly: in the EU, a number of people still die prematurely because they are exposed to fine dust. City dwellers are particularly at risk. But there is also good news.

Despite improved air quality, around 240,000 people in the EU died prematurely in 2020 from exposure to particles in the air around them. This estimate was published by the European Environment Agency EEA. City dwellers are therefore particularly exposed: almost all city dwellers (96%) are exposed to levels of fine dust above the World Health Organization (WHO) guide values ​​of five micrograms per cubic meter, specifies-t -he.

Although air quality in EU countries has improved in recent years, air pollutants remain the biggest threat to environmental health and one of the leading causes of premature death and disease. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death, followed by lung cancer and other lung diseases.

28,900 premature deaths in Germany

According to the Environment Agency, 49,000 deaths were due to chronic exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and 24,000 to exposure to ground-level ozone (O3).

According to estimates, around 28,900 premature deaths in Germany in 2020 can be attributed to ambient air pollution by fine dust. The Environment Agency gave values ​​of 10,000 and 4,600 for nitrogen dioxide and ground-level ozone pollution.

But there is also good news: between 2005 and 2020, the number of premature deaths from particulate pollution in the EU fell by 45%, according to the EEA’s analysis. If this trend continues, the EU could probably meet its target of reducing the number by 55% by 2030. The European Commission had set the target as part of its so-called European Green Deal.

Air pollution must go down

“Nevertheless, further efforts are needed to achieve the goal of zero pollution by 2050, i.e. reducing air pollution to a level that is no longer considered harmful to health” , says the report of the European agency.

In 2020, measures related to the corona pandemic in many countries would have had an impact on pollutant emissions and led to an improvement in air quality. “Nitrogen dioxide concentrations have temporarily decreased – a direct result of reduced road traffic during the Covid shutdowns,” the EEA reported.


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