EEA – EU pollution deaths down by 10% annually

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published data showing that deaths due to fine particulate matter air pollution is falling by an average of 10% a year, but still killed 307,000 people in 2019.

The EEA says that if the new World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution reduction guidelines are followed, this figure could be cut in half. The EU aims at dropping this by 55% by 2035 but may well achieve that target by 2032.

In 2018 the numbers of deaths due to fine particulate matter was 346,000. The EEA says that this drop is due in a large part due to improvement in air quality in the EU. In the early 1990s the figure was close to a million a year and this was more than halved to 450,000 by 2005.

Among the countries most affected, Germany saw 53,800 deaths, 49,900 in Italy and 39,300 in Poland, which had the highest deaths per capita of population.

Other pollutants are measured but are not included in the overall toll as many of the deaths were a combination of pollutants including particulate matter. Between 2018 and 2019, deaths attributed to nitrogen dioxide fell sharply to 40,000, while ground level ozone fell by 13% to 16,800.

The EEA has said that many of these deaths can be attributed to pollution levels being above their guidelines as well as those of the WHO’s.
“Investing in cleaner heating, mobility, agriculture and industry improves health, productivity and quality of life for all Europeans, and particularly the most vulnerable,” EEA director Hans Bruyninck said in a statement.

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