EEA (Europe’s Environmental Agency) suggests that one in every eight people in Europe dies due to different types of pollution. Precisely, factors such as noise and air pollution and the low quality of water are the most hazardous. All of these put together contribute to over 13% of the total death rate. The reports also highlight that vulnerable people and more impoverished communities are more prone to death due to pollution.
Experts and EEA have come to a unanimous conclusion that suggests immediate, decisive action to control the situation. Virginijus Sinkevicius, the EU’s environmental commissioner, believes that people’s health and ecological conditions are linked. He adds that everyone must understand the value of protecting our environment. Doing so will save lives along with conserving the ecosystems.
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Findings from the EEA report
The EEA or Europe’s Environmental Agency, is based out at Copenhagen. Their statements came out on September 8. It was all about a significant environment and health assessment in Europe. According to the research findings, over 630,000 premature deaths in 2012 are results of different types of pollution. The data post-2012 is still not ready and will be available later.
Out of the total, 400,000 deaths resulted from air pollution, 12,000 from noise pollution—the remaining deaths attributed to heatwaves and similar climatic extremities. According to EEA’s reports, Europeans are at risk on multiple levels, and at all times. Factors such as air, noise, chemicals, and water pollutions can prove fatal at any time. There can be incidents when two or more factors form a combination causing death too.
According to the WHO or the World Health Organization, air pollution is the reason for millions of deaths every year. It is also a primary cause of fatalities due to stroke, heart problems, lung cancer, etc. Another similar WHO report suggests that noise pollution often leads to heart diseases. Moreover, it is because loud noise can often increase a person’s blood pressure levels and disturb stress hormones.
Positive highlights in the EEA reports
The latest EEA reports describe details of communities prone to the risks of different types of pollution. The report mentions that the more impoverished communities are undoubtedly more significant victims of air pollution. Besides, they are the ones who fall victim to weather extremities such as cold or heatwaves. Some of the primary reasons for this disparity are the living conditions of the deprived people. Plus, most of these people live and function in significant pollution areas, leading to such a situation.
Apart from all the risk analysis, the EEA report also highlights certain positive factors. The rate of premature deaths due to air pollution has come down from 1 million in 1990. Moreover, the water pollution levels in Europe are also relatively under control at present.
Which regions are at maximum risk from the different types of pollution?
The latest reports clearly show the differences between Western and Eastern Europe. The analysis states that there is a disparity of pollution effects across the continent. For example, the death rate due to different types of pollution is around 9% in Norway. On the other hand, it is 27% in Herzegovina and Bosnia, and 23% in Albania. Besides, the highest record in Romania is 19%. Plus, countries such as Montenegro, Serbia, and North Macedonia are hard-hit by environmental factors too. In the United Kingdome, the death rate due to pollution stands at 12%.
EEA reports highlight that poor communities suffer due to a triple burden. It includes factors such as poverty, ill-health, and low environmental quality. For example, south-eastern and eastern Europe is poorer than the rest of the continent. Plus, pollution due to solid fuel emissions is more in these regions. The same occurs mainly due to cooking and residential heating activities.
What are the ideal actions that we can take?
The EEA suggests that countries must identify the blue and green spaces. These are the ones that lower the temperature when heatwaves hit cities. These spaces also reduce floodwaters and noise pollution. Moreover, the blue and green zones also improve urban biodiversity. Addressing pollution means that there must be a drastic reduction in road traffic. Also, the removal of fossil fuel subsidies is highly essential.
The EU Commission seems to take the traffic reduction point seriously. Primarily, they are working towards the reduction of vehicles that use diesel as a fuel. Besides, experts suggest that the use of electric cars instead is a much more sustainable option in this case. In 2019, London introduced a ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) to limit pollution and emissions from cars, lorries, and vans. Moreover, drivers have to pay the penalty if they are using older vehicles. Similarly, other France and Belgium are also issuing penalties and allowing subsidies to control the different types of pollution.