Health For AllEnvironment HealthAlarming Air Pollution Levels in Europe: Urgent Call for Action

Alarming Air Pollution Levels in Europe: Urgent Call for Action

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Europe continues to grapple with dangerously high air pollution levels, posing a severe threat to public health. The latest assessment from the European Environment Agency (EEA) reveals that adherence to World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations could have prevented 253,000 deaths in the EU in 2021 alone.

The EEA’s ‘Harm to human health from air pollution in Europe: burden of disease 2023’ report highlights the persistent challenges, and points out the urgent need for further measures to meet WHO guideline levels. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide, and ozone remain key contributors, with at least 253,000 deaths attributed to PM2.5 pollution exceeding WHO recommendations.

Despite a 41% reduction in deaths attributable to PM2.5 from 2005 to 2021, air pollution remains the leading environmental health risk in Europe. The impact extends beyond deaths, causing chronic illness and substantial healthcare costs, particularly in urban areas.

Number One Environmental Health Problem

EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, stated ‘’The figures released today by the EEA remind us that air pollution is still the number one environmental health problem in the EU. The good news is that clean air policy works, and our air quality is improving. But we need to do better still, and bring pollution levels down further. That is why the EU must quickly adopt and implement the proposal for a revised Ambient Air Quality Directive that aims to align EU air quality standards more closely with WHO recommendations.’’

The health burden associated with specific diseases linked to air pollution is a focus of this year’s assessment. Diseases such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and asthma bear a substantial health burden due to PM2.5 exposure. Nitrogen dioxide compounded diabetes mellitus, stroke, and asthma, further increasing the toll on public health.

Also Read: The Global Battle Against Air Pollution and Its Impact on Health

The EEA’s findings, presented at the 4th Clean Air Forum 2023, underscore the critical importance of immediate actions to reduce air pollution. As part of these efforts, European citizens can now access real-time air quality data through platforms like the Air Quality Index app. This tool provides hourly updates from over 3,500 air quality monitoring stations in Europe, empowering citizens to assess and interpret air quality in their locality.

The revelation of the health burden associated with air pollution-related diseases propels the need for comprehensive strategies to safeguard the well-being of European citizens. Urgent and collaborative efforts are essential to mitigate the health impacts and create a healthier environment for all.

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