Cleaner air would save many lives in Europe

The residents of the Niederaussem power plant in Bergheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, can watch the air being polluted.
Bild: Picture-Alliance

According to the EU Environment Agency, an estimated 307,000 people in the European Union died prematurely from air pollution in 2019, tens of thousands of them in Germany. Overall, the air quality is getting better and better.

EAccording to environmental experts, improved air quality would prevent a number of premature deaths due to pollution. As the EU Environment Agency EEA announced on Monday, an estimated 307,000 people in the European Union died prematurely in 2019 due to the pollution of their ambient air with fine dust (PM2.5), including tens of thousands in Germany. More than half of these premature deaths in the EU – around 178,000 or 58 percent – could theoretically have been prevented if all EU member states had complied with the new guidelines set by the World Health Organization.

WHO standards are not met

The WHO had made its recommended limit values ​​for pollutants in the air much stricter in September. What the organization considers to be justifiable in terms of health is therefore even more significantly below the EU guideline values ​​currently applicable in Germany.

The Copenhagen-based EEA has now underlined in a comprehensive analysis that air quality in Europe was better in 2019 than in 2018. Nevertheless, according to the information, in addition to the 307,000 premature deaths due to fine dust, 40,400 others were due to chronic pollution with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and 16,800 with ground-level ozone (O3). These values ​​should not be added up because of possible double counting. In the case of Germany, the Environment Agency gives these numbers as 53,800, 6000 and 3350.


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