Dying of pollution

The new report from European Environment Agency estimates 630.000 deaths caused by smog and climate change.
And Covid-19 showed the need to speed up with reference to the environment-health relationship

Such news leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Around 630.000 deaths during the year in Europe and United Kingdom are connected to environmental factors. Which means, actually, 13 % of total death toll. 

This comes from an authoritative source, The European Environment Agency, which recently published its yearly report on health and socio-environmental variables. The number is impressive, the causes too – smog and climate change, which basically mean cancer, lung and cardiovascular diseases. “These deaths” the Agency states, “could be prevented if we avert the environmental risks having effect on health”. 

A very heavy focus is reserved to the Po Valley, which is, once again, among the most polluted areas in Europe, with very high levels of PM2,5 and nitrogen dioxide – thus affecting the percentage of deaths in our Country, where more than 12% of the illnesses are caused by environmental pollution. Denmark and Sweden have a 10%, Romania 19%. During 2018, particulate matter alone caused 379.000 deaths in Europe. According to the survey, the poorest are exposed “in a disproportionate way” to pollution and extreme weather conditions – this is “connected to the place they live, work and got to school in, often socially deprived areas and suburbs”. 

Any solution? According to European Environment Agency, there is only one way – the reduction of car traffic, of intensive livestock breeding and the removal of subsidies for fossil fuels. In addition to this, there is the need to make the most of all green spaces, which should be used not only for rest or training, but also for social integration.

The survey could not avoid dwelling on the recent Covid-19 pandemic. A health crisis that highlighted the need to focus on the binomial environment – health. The Agency talks about “first evidences” of the link between coronavirus high death rate, environmental pollution and poverty – but new researches will be needed, to enforce the studies carried on during these months. What is sure is that “the emergency of zoonite pathogens is linked to the deterioration of the environment and to the interaction between man and animals in the actual food system”. 

However, there are still some good news – the water in the old continent is going on well. More than 85% of bathing waters are considered excellent, while 74% of drinking water in underground areas is in a good chemical state.  

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