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Toxic air killed over 500,000 people in EU in 2021: Study – Times of India


NEW DELHI: In research conducted recently, it has been estimated that over half a million people in the European Union were killed due to dirty air in 2021, reported The Guardian.
The study conducted by the European Environment Agency also claimed that about half of the deaths could have been averted by cutting pollution to recommended limits.
Researchers found that 253,000 early deaths were reportedly caused by the concentrations of fine particulates known as PM2.5, which breached the World Health Organization’s (WHO) maximum guideline limits of 5µg/m3.
In the research, it was highlighted that 52,000 deaths were from the presence of excessive nitrogen dioxide and 22,000 people lost life due to short-term exposure to excessive levels of ozone.
“The figures released today by the EEA remind us that air pollution is still the number one environmental health problem in the EU,” Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU’s environment commissioner told the news outlet.
Doctors emphasised that air pollution stands as one of the leading causes of global mortality. However, the death tolls could decrease significantly if nations prioritize cleaning up their economies. In the European Union (EU), the number of deaths from PM2.5 decreased by 41% between 2005 and 2021, with the EU aiming for a 55% reduction by the end of the decade.
Despite the World Health Organization’s (WHO) stringent air quality guidelines established in 2021, which underscore the absence of a safe threshold for air pollution, specific upper limits for certain pollutants have been set. In September, the European Parliament voted to align the EU’s air quality regulations with those of the WHO but opted to postpone the implementation until 2035.
“The good news is that clean air policy works, and our air quality is improving,” said Sinkevičius. “But we need to do better still, and bring pollution levels down further.”
The researchers calculated the additional years that the population lived with illnesses caused by poor air quality. While this adjustment had minimal impact on certain health issues like lung cancer and ischaemic heart disease, it shed light on significant levels of suffering previously overlooked in mortality statistics, particularly in the case of conditions like asthma.
“When people get lung cancer, normally they die very quickly,” Alberto González Ortiz, an EEA air pollution researcher told The Guardian.
“For other diseases – especially asthma but also diabetes or also chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – there is also an important contribution of this state of living with disability,” he added.

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