Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Cleaner Air in Europe Has Resulted in 11,000 Fewer Deaths, New Study Says

Health + Wellness
Cleaner Air in Europe Has Resulted in 11,000 Fewer Deaths, New Study Says
Clear skies in Madrid seen from the Hill of Tio Pio during the 46th day of the state of alarm on April 29, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. Eduardo Parra / Europa Press via Getty Images

A new study has shown that drops in nitrogen dioxide in the air and fine particulate matter as coal and oil consumption have plummeted over the last month have saved an estimated 11,000 lives across Europe. The range may be as low as 7,000, but as high as 21,000 deaths avoided.


The study found that steep declines in vehicular congestion and emissions from industrial activities has led to a bevy of positive health impacts, including 1.3 million fewer sick days for workers, 6,000 fewer children developing asthma, 1,900 emergency room visits avoided and 600 fewer preterm births in Europe, according to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), as The Guardian reported.

The researchers found that stay-at-home orders across Europe to slow down the spread of the coronavirus have led to a 40 percent drop in nitrogen dioxide in the air and a 10 percent drop in particle pollution, as Business Green reported.

These types of pollution weaken the immune system, heart function and the respiratory system. They are responsible for an estimated 470,000 deaths in Europe each year, according to The Guardian.

Measures to combat the pandemic have resulted in "unprecedentedly dramatic reductions in coal and oil burning associated with air pollution in Europe," explained CREA lead analyst Lauri Myllyvirta, as Business Green reported. "This reduction in pollution has helped alleviate pressure on the health care system during this crisis. Furthermore, our analysis highlights the tremendous benefits for public health and quality of life that could be achieved by rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way."

The statistical model the researchers created looked at data for air quality, weather conditions, emissions, population and disease prevalence. Germany ranked first with an estimated 2,083 deaths avoided followed by the UK (1,752), Italy (1,490), France (1,230) and Spain (1,083), according to The Guardian.

The research also looked at the ailments that were avoided. They found that 40 percent of the reductions in death were related to heart conditions, 17 percent to lung disease, and 13 percent from strokes and cancer, as The Guardian reported.

Myllyvirta noted that the research shows the impetus to transition to a clean energy infrastructure.

"Air pollution levels are plummeting as an unintended result of measures against the virus; this should not be seen as a 'silver lining', but it does show how normalised the massive death toll from air pollution has become, and points to what can be achieved if we shift to clean energy," he said, as Business Green reported. "When restrictions are fully lifted, European decision-makers can continue to implement policies to green electricity grids and transport systems in order to clear up our skies so we don't return to heavy pollution."

Myllyvirta noted that the results are just from Europe and they would likely be magnified if worldwide statistics were added. However, those gains are not to minimize the devastating toll the virus has had, claiming over 220,000 lives worldwide and causing millions of job losses.

The statistics mirror the observations of health experts who are seeing a dip in patients arriving at the hospital with complications from pulmonary disease and asthma.

"There is no doubt that a fall in air pollution is part of the reason," said Dr LJ Smith, a consultant in respiratory medicine at King's College hospital in London, to The Guardian. "It's allowed us to question what we have previously accepted as normal. If air pollution returns to its previous levels my waiting room will once again start filling up with children and adults struggling to breathe."

A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A plastic bag caught in a tree in New Jersey's Palisades Park. James Leynse / Stone / Getty Images

New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Did you know that nearly 30% of adults do, or will, suffer from a sleep condition at some point in their life? Anyone who has experienced disruptions in their sleep is familiar with the havoc that it can wreak on your body and mind. Lack of sleep, for one, can lead to anxiety and lethargy in the short-term. In the long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Fortunately, there are proven natural supplements that can reduce insomnia and improve quality sleep for the better. CBD oil, in particular, has been scientifically proven to promote relaxing and fulfilling sleep. Best of all, CBD is non-addictive, widely available, and affordable for just about everyone to enjoy. For these very reasons, we have put together a comprehensive guide on the best CBD oil for sleep. Our goal is to provide objective, transparent information about CBD products so you are an informed buyer.

Read More Show Less
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Sept. 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill to boost clean energy while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are known pollutants and contribute to the climate crisis, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington comforts Marsha Maus, 75, whose home was destroyed during California's deadly 2018 wildfires, on March 11, 2019 in Agoura Hills, California. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

By Governor Jay Inslee

Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.

In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.

Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch