Home News Air pollution killed at least 238,000 Europeans in 2020, a rise due to Covid

Air pollution killed at least 238,000 Europeans in 2020, a rise due to Covid

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Fine particle pollution caused 238,000 premature deaths in the European Union in 2020, according to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) published on Thursday, a figure up slightly over one year due to Covid.

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“Exposure to fine particle concentrations above World Health Organization recommendations has resulted in 238,000 premature deaths” across the EU, the European Environment Agency said in a new report.

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This is up slightly from 2019, when fine particles, which penetrate deep into the lungs, caused the premature death of some 231,000 people.

A “significant” number

This increase contrasts with the constant decline over the past twenty years, with a total decline of 45% between 2005 and 2020, even if the figure remains ” significant “ emphasizes the study.

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This increase is explained in particular by the fact that Covid-19 has hit people with comorbidities linked to air pollution (cancer, lung disease or type 2 diabetes) the hardest.

Otherwise, “comparing 2020 to 2019, the number of premature deaths attributable to air pollution increased for (fine particles) PM2.5 but decreased for (nitrogen dioxide) NO 2 and (ozone) O3 »details the AEE in its study.

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For ozone particles (O3), particularly from road traffic and industrial activities, the trend in 2020 was downward with more than 24,000 deaths, i.e. a drop of 3% over one year.

49,000 premature deaths from nitrogen dioxide

For nitrogen dioxide (NO 2), a gas produced mainly by vehicles and thermal power stations, more than 49,000 premature deaths were recorded, a drop of 22% which is partly explained by the reduction in road traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The agency, based in Copenhagen, does not add balance sheets because it would lead to double counting. According to its annual report, it estimates that the EU is on track to achieve its target of reducing premature deaths by more than 50% in 2030 compared to 2005.

At the beginning of the 1990s, fine particles caused almost a million premature deaths in the 27 countries of the EU. In 2005, 431,000 people still died from it. Air pollution remains the most significant environmental threat to the health of Europeans.

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