EFA and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) have launched a website to sheds light on how air pollution is implicated in the development and rise of asthma, and provides tips on reducing exposure.
Launched in the World Asthma Day, The “Know your air for health” website is written in English, German and Italian and primarily seeks to benefit vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, children, patients and the elderly, because they are most affected by air pollution. The website also encourages patients, the public and health professional groups to make their voice heard with European Union, national and local government authorities on what needs to be done to improve air quality.
In the next months, the EU will review legislation on air quality and new information will be uploaded to the website in order to increase awareness and mobilise the most affected communities.
Up to 85% of European Union Member States do not comply with Ambient Air Pollution limits
WHO has recently updated the Ambient Air Pollution database (AAP) covering data for 91 countries and 1,600 cities worldwide from 2008 to 2013. For the European region, the data available in the AAP database includes statistics on the exposure of Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5) for 109 cities in 8 (out of 20) low-and-middle income (LMI) countries, and the data on 461 cities in 29 (out of 33) high income (HI) countries.
The result of this new data is that only Estonia, Finland, Ireland and Sweden comply with WHO PM2.5 and only Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden comply with PM10. Particulate matters are very dangerous to human health: it is small enough to easily enter not only the lungs, but also the bloodstream. Long-term exposure to particles increases the risk of developing heart and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer. The average life expectancy in the EU is nearly nine months lower due to the exposure to fine particulate matter produced by human activities.
Air pollution impact in our health cost USD 1.7 trillion
Another recent publication, this time from the Organisations for Economic and Cooperation Development (OECD), has estimated the cost of the health impact of air pollution in OECD countries (including deaths and illness) of about USD 1.7 trillion in 2010.
Indeed, although the number of deaths due to outdoor air pollution fell by about 4% in OECD countries between 2005 and 2010, 14 countries have not achieved progress. Available evidence suggests that road transport accounts for about 50% of this cost in the OECD, or close to USD 1 trillion.
Among its recommendations, OECD advices to continue the research on the economic value of morbidity impacts of air pollution and on the specific evidence linking it to road transport and mitigate the impact of air pollution on vulnerable groups, such as the young and the old.