Polluted air: 240,000 deaths in the EU due to particulate matter

Status: 11/24/2022 03:58 am

Air quality in the EU has improved. Nevertheless, according to an official estimate, around 240,000 people died prematurely in 2020 from fine dust pollution in the air alone.

Despite an overall improvement in air quality, an estimated 240,000 people died prematurely in the EU in 2020 as a result of particulate matter pollution. The EU Environment Agency EEA comes to this conclusion in a report that has now been published.

The danger from air pollution is particularly great for people in cities. 96 percent of all city dwellers are exposed to particulate matter levels that are above the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline of five micrograms per cubic meter, it said.

Heart disease, stroke, lung cancer

Airborne pollutants continue to be the number one health threat from the environment. They are one of the main causes of premature death and disease. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death, followed by lung cancer and other lung diseases.

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).

Better air through pandemic measures

However, between 2005 and 2020 the number of premature deaths due to particulate matter pollution in the EU fell by 45 percent, according to the EEA analysis. If this trend continues, the EU could probably achieve its goal of reducing the number of premature deaths from particulate matter pollution by 55 percent by 2030. The EU Commission had set this goal as part of its so-called European Green Deal.

Nevertheless, further efforts are necessary. In 2020, measures related to the corona pandemic in many countries would have had an impact on pollutant emissions and led to improved air quality. “Nitrogen dioxide concentrations have temporarily decreased – a direct result of reduced road traffic during the Covid lockdowns,” wrote the EEA.

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