Cleaner Air in Europe Has Resulted in 11,000 Fewer Deaths, New Study Says
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."
- Coronavirus Shutdown Leads to 'Dramatic' Decline in Chinese ... ›
- Coronavirus Shutdowns Causing Huge Drops in Traffic, Air Pollution ... ›
- Coronavirus Lockdown Linked to Falling Air Pollution Levels in Italy ... ›
- Shutdowns Stopped 60 Million COVID-19 Infections in the U.S., New Research Finds - EcoWatch ›
- Air Pollution Responsible for Over 6.6 Million Deaths Worldwide in 2020, Study Finds - EcoWatch ›
The aptly named diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) has an exoskeleton so strong, it can survive being pecked by birds and even run over by cars. When early entomologists tried to mount them as specimens, BBC News explained, that exoskeleton would snap or bend their pins.
- How to Save Insects - EcoWatch ›
- New Report Documents Global Insect Decline - EcoWatch ›
- How a Plastic-Eating Caterpillar Could Help Solve the World's ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Singapore Will Plant One Million Trees by 2030 - EcoWatch ›
- Australia to Build the World's Largest Solar Farm to Power Singapore ›
- Giant Water Battery Cuts University's Energy Costs by $100 Million ... ›
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
By Tara Lohan
In 1999 a cheering crowd watched as a backhoe breached a hydroelectric dam on Maine's Kennebec River. The effort to help restore native fish populations and the river's health was hailed as a success and ignited a nationwide movement that spurred 1,200 dam removals in two decades.
Transmission lines from the Churchill Falls generating station in Labrador. Douglas Spott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Atlantic sturgeon were brought to the brink of extension in the 20th century and are now are listed as an endangered species. NOAA
Near Happy Valley-Goose Bay on the Churchill (Grand) River downstream from Muskrat Falls. Douglas Sprott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia in 2017. Jason Woodhead / CC BY 2.0
The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island is the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Dennis Schroeder / NREL / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.
- Earth Is Hurtling Towards a Catastrophe Worse Than the Dinosaur ... ›
- Are We Doomed If We Don't Curb Carbon Emissions by 2030 ... ›
- Humans Release 40 to 100x More CO2 Than Volcanoes, Major ... ›