One in eight deaths in Europe are linked to pollution, according to a new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The report, which draws extensively on data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), highlights how the quality of Europe’s environment plays a key role in determining our health and wellbeing.
The report found that air pollution is one of Europe’s top environmental threat to health, with more than 400,000 premature deaths driven by air pollution every single year.
It said factors such as air and noise pollution, as well as poor water quality and exposure to chemicals, contributed to 13% of all deaths.
The burden of pollution and climate change varies across Europe, 27% of national deaths are attributable to the environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, compared to 9% in Iceland and Norway.
The report also highlights that socially deprived communities are more likely to be exposed to higher levels of pollution, and therefore struggle under a triple burden of poverty, poor quality environments and ill health.
The report has also highlighted that although the evidence is not yet conclusive, early research has suggested that air pollution and poverty may be linked to higher death rates from COVID-19.
The report stresses that an integrated approach to environment and health policies is essential in order to tackle environmental health risks and protect the most vulnerable.
Protecting nature is key in the delivery of public health benefits, reducing disease and fostering good health and well-being.
In related news, the Good Law Project has launched a landmark legal case to force the UK government to urgently review its Clean Air Strategy in light of a growing body of evidence suggesting that there is a link between air pollution and COVID-19.
The government’s current Clean Air Strategy aims to reduce the number of people exposed to air pollution, however the strategy has been widely criticised for failing to recognise any meaningful targets on particulate matter (PM2.5) – one of the most harmful pollutants to human health.
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