Air pollution killed nearly 238,000 people in Europe in 2020

The human toll is heavy. In 2020, 283,000 Europeans died prematurely due to fine particle pollution. This is a higher figure than in 2019, in recent years the number of deaths has been falling. In the early 1990s, fine particles were responsible for the premature deaths of almost one million people in the twenty-seven EU countries.

According to the new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA), published on Thursday 24 November, the number of pollution-related deaths is a small increase (compared to 231,000 in 2019), an unprecedented situation for 20 years. “Since 2000, emissions of major air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), from transport have fallen significantly,” the EEA notes in another report.

How to explain this increase? For the authors of the report, this increase can be explained by the fact that Covid-19 has particularly affected people with commorbidities linked to air pollution. According to EEA experts, 96% of the EU urban population was exposed in 2020 to concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) above the WHO recommended level of 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air recalls Le Monde.

Atmospheric pollution

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“Comparing 2020 to 2019, the number of premature deaths attributable to air pollution increased for (fine particles) PM2.5 but decreased for (nitrogen dioxide) NO2 and (ozone) O3 “, these last pollutants coming from road traffic or industry, details the report.

By 2030, the European Union must take up the challenge of reduce premature deaths by more than 50% caused by pollution compared to 2005.

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