238,000 early deaths due to air pollution in 2020 - EU - ednews.net

3 February, Friday

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238,000 early deaths due to air pollution in 2020 - EU

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At least 238,000 premature deaths occurred in the European Union due to exposure to fine particulate matter in 2020, according to figures released Thursday by the European Environment Agency (EEA), DW reports. 

Even as there was a fall in emissions due to coronavirus restrictions, the data showed a slight rise in deaths compared to those recorded in 2019 in the 27-member EU.

According to EEA's analysis, 96% of the EU's urban population was exposed to concentrations of fine particulate matter above the level in the WHO guidelines.

"Air pollution continues to pose significant risks to health in Europe, causing chronic illness and premature deaths," it said.

Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, is a term for fine particulates that are typically the by-product of car exhausts or coal-fired power plants.

The size of the pollutants enables them to travel deep into the respiratory tract, exacerbating the risk of asthma, bronchitis and other lung diseases.

The report also said some 49,000 early deaths occurred due to nitrogen dioxide pollution while exposure to ozone led to 24,000 deaths.

The agency added that the number of premature deaths from exposure to PM2.5 fell by 45% in the EU from 2005 to 2020.

"If this trend continues, the EU is expected to deliver on the zero pollution action plan target of a 55% reduction in premature deaths by 2030," the EEA report said.

"Nevertheless, further efforts will be needed to meet the zero pollution vision for 2050 of reducing air pollution to levels no longer considered harmful to health."

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