SHARE
COPY LINK

POLLUTION

Pollution linked to ‘one in eight’ deaths in EU countries

In the EU, 13 percent of deaths are linked to pollution, said a new report published on Tuesday by the European Environment Agency (EEA), which stressed the current pandemic put environmental health factors in the spotlight.

Pollution linked to 'one in eight' deaths in EU countries
File photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Europeans are constantly exposed to environmental risks like air pollution, noise and chemicals, and the Covid-19 pandemic provides an example of the links between “human health and ecosystem health.”

“The emergence of such zoonotic pathogens is linked to environmental degradation and human interactions with animals in the food system,” the report said.

Zoonosis is an animal disease that transmits to humans.

In the 27 countries of the EU and in the United Kingdom, 630,000 deaths in 2012 could be attributed to environmental factors, according to the latest figures available, the report said.

It also noted a stark contrast between Western and Eastern Europe, divided along socio-economic lines.

As such, Romania sees the greatest impact from environmental factors with one in five deaths linked to pollution, while countries like Sweden and Denmark see one in 10.

Pollution is primarily linked to cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and the EEA stressed that “these deaths could be avoided by eliminating environmental risks to health.”

“Poorer people are disproportionately exposed to air pollution and extreme weather, including heatwaves and extreme cold,” the report said.

“This is linked to where they live, work and go to school, often in socially deprived urban neighbourhoods close to heavy traffic,” it added.

On a more positive note, water quality in Europe is faring well.

The quality of “bathing water” is deemed “excellent” in 85 percent of cases and 74 percent of groundwater bodies – an important source of drinking water – has “good chemical status.”

According to the EEA, in order to improve health and the environment in Europe, “green and blue spaces” should be favoured, as they “cool cities during heatwaves, alleviate flood waters, reduce noise pollution and support urban biodiversity.”

In addition green spaces providing “public space for relaxation and exercise facilitate community interactions” which helps “reduce social isolation.”

Other proposed measures to improve the environment include reducing road traffic, cutting meat consumption and removing fossil fuel subsidies.

READ ALSO: Noise pollution causes suffering for 'one in five' people in Europe

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

EUROPEAN UNION

EU court rejects Austria case against Hungary nuclear plant

The EU's second highest court on Wednesday rejected a complaint by Austria against a European Commission decision to approve the expansion of a nuclear plant in neighbouring Hungary with Russian aid.

EU court rejects Austria case against Hungary nuclear plant

Staunchly anti-nuclear Austria lodged the legal complaint in 2018 after the European Union’s executive arm allowed the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant outside the Hungarian capital Budapest with a 10-billion-euro ($12.4 billion) Russian loan.

The plant is Hungary’s only nuclear facility and supplies around 40 percent of its electricity needs.

In its decision the commission judged that the project met EU rules on state aid, but Austria disputed this.

The General Court of the EU ruled Wednesday that “member states are free to determine the composition of their own energy mix and that the Commission cannot require that state financing be allocated to alternative energy sources.”

READ ALSO: Why is Austria so anti nuclear power? 

Hungary aims to have two new reactors enter service by 2030, more than doubling the plant’s current capacity with the 12.5-billion-euro construction. The Paks plant was built with Soviet-era technology in the 1980s during Hungary’s communist period. 

The construction of two new reactors is part of a 2014 deal struck between Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Victor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The work is carried out by Moscow’s state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom.

The details of the deal have been classified for 30 years for “national security reasons” with critics alleging this could conceal corruption.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What are the chances of blackouts in Austria this winter?

Since the late 1970s, Austria has been fiercely anti-nuclear, starting with an unprecedented vote by its population that prevented the country’s only plant from providing a watt of power.

Last month, the Alpine EU member filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice over the bloc’s decision to label nuclear power as green.

In 2020, the top EU court threw out an appeal by Austria to find British government subsidies for the nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in breach of the bloc’s state aid rules.

SHOW COMMENTS