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Air quality in Europe: Nearly 240,000 premature deaths from particulate matter


Air pollution kills: many people in the EU die prematurely because of exposure to fine dust, for example. According to a new analysis, city dwellers are particularly at risk.

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Especially in inner cities, motor vehicles contribute to air pollution (symbol image)

Photo: Florian Gaertner / Photothek via Getty Images

According to a report by the EU Environment Agency (EEA) on Thursday, an estimated 238,000 people died in 2020 in the 27 EU countries as a result of fine dust pollution.

In Germany, the estimated number of deaths was 28,900.

People who live in cities are particularly at risk: Almost all city dwellers (96 percent) are exposed to fine dust levels that are above the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline values ​​of five micrograms per cubic meter, it said.

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Although air quality in EU countries has improved in recent years, air pollutants are still the greatest environmental health threat. They are one of the main reasons for premature death and illness.

Small particles can enter the body

Particulate matter is caused, for example, by emissions from motor vehicles and coal-fired power plants.

Fine dust particles that are less than 2.5 microns in size are particularly dangerous because they can penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system.

In this way, they can cause strokes, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory infections.

In addition to fine dust, pollution with nitrogen dioxide and ozone is also problematic.

The number of premature deaths from these two pollutants decreased in 2020.

The estimated number of deaths from nitrogen dioxide, which is mainly emitted by cars, trucks and thermal power plants, fell to 49,000 in the EU, according to the EEA.

Ozone has seen a drop to 24,000 deaths.

In Germany, it is estimated that 10,000 people died as a result of exposure to nitrogen dioxide and 4,600 to ozone.

In its zero-pollution action plan, the EU has set itself the goal of reducing the number of premature deaths from particulate matter pollution by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 2005.

According to the EEA report, a drop of 45 percent was achieved in 2020.

If this development continues, the 55 percent target will be reached before 2030, the EU authority said.


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-11-24

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