84% of the European population in cities is exposed to PM 2.5 levels above the maximum recommended by the World Health Organization.
According to a study by the Institute for Global Health, ISGlobal, which for the first time estimated the mortality rate from air pollution in more than 1,000 European cities.
The research, published in the Journal The Lancet Planetary Health, includes a ranking of the cities with the highest pollution mortality, with two classifications: one for pollution by fine particulate matter (PM2.5), by combustion of various fuels (especially diesel), and one by nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a toxic gas from road traffic.
Air pollution is associated with respiratory problems, heart disease, cancer, dementia, fertility problems and cognitive impairment. This pollution is substantial in cities with a high level of road traffic.
The research assesses the premature deaths that could be prevented across Europe if the WHO recommendations are fulfilled.
It is also analyzed whether the air quality of the cleanest cities like Reykjavik is feasible. The results of the analysis establish two rankings based on the mortality burden for each of the two stated pollutants.
689 deaths from particulate matter and 206 deaths from nitrogen dioxide could be avoided in Madrid, following WHO recommendations. 2,179 and 2,380 respectively if the lower contamination levels are equaled. In Barcelona 1,297 deaths from particulate matter and 82 deaths from nitrogen dioxide would be prevented, if the WHO recommendations were fulfilled. 2.448 and 1.883 respectively if the lower contaminations levels are equaled.
The reported results show that there is no safe threshold below which air pollution is harmless to health. Since current European legislation does not protect human health properly, the maximum allowable limits of NO2 and PM2.5 should be reviewed
Greenpeace statement has drawn attention to this situation. It is stated that the data provided by ISGlobal, “proves the passivity of government services towards a major problem such as air pollution”.
Despite repeated warnings from the medical and scientific community and threats from the European Union for exceeding air quality limits, major cities continue to prioritize a car-based mobility model ”
In Madrid, ranked leader in the top 10, it is estimated that 6-7% of natural deaths are caused by exposure to nitrogen dioxide. Air pollution is one of the major threats to human health. According to the WHO, environmental air pollution (outdoor air) causes 4.2 million deaths worldwide every year.
How could you act? Get informed, take action, switch to cleaner and renewable energy sources at home, walk, move around by bicycleor use any other form of active and healthy transport. Use public transport instead of the car for longer journeys. #WeRideAgainstClimateChange