Fine particle pollution killed 253,000 people in Europe in 2021

Fine particle pollution killed 253,000 people in Europe in 2021

Fine particle air pollution caused the deaths of 253,000 people in the European Union in 2021, according to a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) published on Friday.

At least 253,000 deaths in the EU in 2021 are attributable to exposure to fine particle pollution (PM2.5) above the concentration of 5 µg/m3 recommended by the WHO“(World Health Organization), indicates the EEA in its press release.

This figure is up compared to 2020 when fine particles, which penetrate deep into the lungs, caused the premature death of 238,000 people.

The increase observed between the two years is explained by increased exposure to pollutants and a slight increase in European mortality mainly due to Covid-19, according to the EEA.

The trend, however, remains largely positive over the longer term since between 2005 and 2021, the number of premature deaths due to fine particles decreased by 41%, underlines the study.

Despite the “great progress” made in recent years, “the impact of air pollution on our health still remains too high“, notes the executive director of the AEE, Leena Ylä-Mononen, quoted in the press release.

By category of pollutants, mortality attributable to PM2.5 is “slightly increasing” compared to 2020.

At the same time, some 52,000 premature deaths are attributable to exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a gas produced mainly by vehicles and thermal power plants, reflecting a “slight increase” compared to 2020, according to the EEA.

For ozone particles (O3), particularly from road traffic and industrial activities, 22,000 premature deaths are attributable to it, a “slight decrease” compared to 2020.

The agency does not add the balance sheets because, according to it, this would lead to double counting.

Air pollution remains the most significant environmental threat to the health of Europeans, she emphasizes.