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Pollution kills one in eight people in Europe

The European Environment Agency is issuing a warning signal in a report published on Tuesday on environmental degradation. Despite the “excellent” water quality, air pollution remains the leading killer of Europeans.

The European Environment Agency is issuing a warning signal in a report published on Tuesday on environmental degradation. Despite the “excellent” water quality, air pollution remains the leading killer of Europeans.

(ASdN with AFP) – With or without covid-19, will the mask become an essential accessory? In the European Union, 13% of deaths are linked to pollution, says the European Environment Agency (EEA) in a report released Tuesday. For the organization in charge of preserving and monitoring the environment, the health crisis would be “a signal” to accelerate “awareness” of the relationship between environment and health.

The emergence of these zoonotic pathogens, as in the case of covid-19 would thus be “linked to the degradation of the environment and to the interactions between humans and animals in the food system”, thus affirms the study which stresses that Europeans are constantly exposed to environmental risks, be it air pollution, noise pollution and chemicals.

In the 27 EU countries and the UK, 630,000 deaths could be attributed directly or indirectly to a polluted environment in 2012 according to the latest figures available, the report said. Important differences between western and eastern Europe and according to socio-economic level are however to be noted.

The most disadvantaged on the front line

Thus, at the head of the peloton, Romania records nearly one in five deaths linked to pollution while the best students, Sweden and Denmark, deplore one in ten. Mainly linked to cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, “these deaths could be avoided by eliminating the environmental risks that are bad for health”, underlines the EEA.

“The poorest people are disproportionately exposed to pollution and extreme weather conditions,” including heat waves and extreme cold, the report notes. According to the latter, it would be linked to where they live, work and go to school, “often in socially disadvantaged areas and neighborhoods on the outskirts of major traffic routes”.

Beneficial parks and gardens

Positive point for the European environment: the quality of the water, “excellent” in over 85% of cases for bathing water. Regarding drinking water, 74% of groundwater areas have a “good chemical status”. According to the agency, to improve health and the environment in Europe, green spaces must be favored, places of physical activity, relaxation but also social integration, which “cool cities during heat waves, reduce floods, reduce the noise pollution and support urban biodiversity ”.

In addition, parks and gardens have proven to be invaluable for mental health and well-being during the covid-19 pandemic, the European agency points out. Reducing road traffic, reducing meat consumption and removing fossil fuel subsidies are some of the other solutions it offers.


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