Air pollutants kill children in Europe, raise risk of illness
The European Union's Environmental Agency reveals that poor air quality causes more than 1,200 deaths for European children every year after completing a study in over 30 European countries.
Poor air quality leads to upwards of 1,200 premature deaths every year in teenagers and children in Europe and aggravates the risk of chronic illness, The European Union's Environmental Agency (EEA) reported on Monday.
The study showed that levels of key air pollutants remain above the World Health Organization's guidelines, specifically in central-eastern Europe and Italy. The EAA conducted its research in more than 30 countries, 27 of which are EU member states.
If the research were to be expanded to industrial states such as the UK, Russia, and Ukraine, the number of deaths caused by air pollution is projected to be much higher.
The agency said in November 2022 that 238,000 people lost their lives prematurely due to deadly amounts of air pollutants in Europe.
"Air pollution causes over 1,200 premature deaths per year in people under the age of 18 in Europe and significantly increases the risk of disease later in life," the agency stated.
The study that focused on children and teenagers showed that "although the number of premature deaths in this age group is low relative to the total for the European population estimated by EEA each year, deaths early in life represent a loss of future potential and come with a significant burden of chronic illness, both in childhood and later in life."
The agency urged governments to work on bettering air quality in areas that house children activities such as schools, nurseries, sports facilities, and mass transport hubs.
The report underlined the effects of air pollution on children's health and pointed to the multiple illnesses it can cause, including asthma, reduced lung function, respiratory infections, and allergies.
Air pollution in numbers
9% of school European children and adolescents covered by the study suffer from asthma which can be aggravated by poor air quality according to the EEA.
Poor air quality can also "aggravate chronic conditions like asthma, which afflicts nine percent of children and adolescents in Europe, as well as increasing the risk of some chronic diseases later in adulthood."
Furthermore, 97% of Urban residents breathe in air that is below WHO's acceptable air quality guidelines.
The agency stated last year that the EU was expected to reach its target of cutting premature deaths by 50% by 2030 as compared to the amounts of deaths in this category in 2005.
In the 90s EU residents were victims of an estimated million premature deaths annually which was reduced to 431,000 deaths in 2005.
Global markers off the charts
Air quality markers in Europe are generally far better than in cities around the world, as the WHO linked more than 7,000,000 deaths every year to air pollution globally, which is almost equivalent to the number of deaths caused by smoking cigarettes and unhealthy diets.
Thailand has witnessed toxic smog in several cities including Chiang Mai, which was ranked by IQAir as the city with the worst air quality globally. Health officials revealed that more than 2.4 million residents requested medical care for issues related to air pollution since the start of the year.