Road transport and energy generation Air pollution is the greatest health threat in Europe

Road transport and energy generation Air pollution is the greatest health threat in Europe

Road transport and energy generation Air pollution is the greatest health threat in Europe

Air pollution in is still too high. This emerges from the report Air Quality in Europe 2018 published on Monday by the European Environment Agency (EEA). According to the Copenhagen-based agency, air pollution is the leading cause of premature death in 41 European countries. It is based on data from more than 2500 measuring stations across Europe. Despite slow progress, the limit values ​​of the European Union and those in many places would be exceeded.

For 2015, the researchers come to around 442,000 calculated premature deaths in connection with air pollution, of which around 391,000 were in the 28 EU member states. Causes include fine dust, ground-level ozone and nitrogen dioxide. They cause or worsen breathing difficulties, cardiovascular disease or cancer and lead to shortened lifespans, according to the EEA.

The report cites road transport, power generation, agriculture, industry and households as the main sources of pollution.

“Emissions from road traffic are often worse than those from other sources,” said EEA Director Hans Bruyninckx. They would be emitted near the ground and would often occur in cities and therefore close to humans. But not only people are affected. Air pollution can also damage ecosystems, affect soils, forests, lakes and rivers, and reduce crop yields.

Stricter regulations on air pollution control and improved standards for vehicle emissions, industry and energy generation have led to a reduction in premature deaths by around half since 1990, according to the EEA.

According to a study, air pollution kills seven million people worldwide every year. Around 600,000 of them are children under the age of 15, as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in Geneva on Monday. People in poorer countries are particularly affected. “Air pollution is a global health crisis,” warns WHO, referring to 2016 figures. On average, 93 percent of children worldwide breathe air that is a risk to their health and development. In the rich countries it is 52 percent, in the other states 98 percent. Citizens should exert political pressure to achieve the environmental goal of better air, said WHO public health expert Maria Neira.

The WHO distinguishes between pollution of the outside air and the air inside. In the open air, for example, the burning of fossil raw materials or waste, industrial and car exhaust fumes, forest fires and volcanic eruptions pollute the air. In houses, smoke from kerosene, coal, organic waste or wood for cooking, heating or as a source of light takes people’s breath away. This is particularly fatal for children who spend a lot of time under the roof at home at a young age. The most important lever for a trend reversal is therefore “clean energy”, especially in households, it said.