15 million Spaniards are breathing air the EU considers polluted

More than half of Spain is covered in air containing excessive levels of particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.

The number of affected areas in Spain has gone from three to five:Granada , Málaga/Costa del Sol, Villanueva del Arzobispo in Jaén province, Plana de Vic in Barcelona, and Avilés in Asturias are all affected.

The technical stuff…

Current EU limits – which the UK comfortably meets – for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution are 25μg/m3 as an annual average. The WHO limits are tougher, at 10μg/m3 as an annual average. Which basically says we are breathing in smoke and pollutants at rates high enough to cause damage to health. Tropospheric ozone (O3) is also on the rise, the data shows. “Levels are high in suburban and rural areas,” says a new report.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), said there are an estimated 11,000 deaths per year at the moment, but that this will rise as the population continues to age. It wants the UK to adopt World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on air pollution and meet them by 2030.

It has been estimated that more than 160,000 people could die over the next decade from strokes and heart attacks caused by air pollution in th Uk. That is the equivalent of more than 40 heart and circulatory disease deaths related to air pollution every day.

The BHF said PM2.5 can have a “seriously detrimental effect to heart health”, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke and making existing health problems worse.

NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “The climate emergency is also a health emergency, with thousands of avoidable deaths and hospital admissions every year linked to air pollution, which is why the NHS is playing its part by taking action to reduce carbon emissions, including cutting traffic by reducing the need for millions of hospital appointments through better services.

“With air pollution contributing to around 40,000 deaths a year and four in 10 children at school in high-pollution communities, it’s clear that tackling air pollution needs to be everyone’s urgent business.”

The immediate effects of air pollution are hard to ignore. Watery eyes, coughing and difficulty breathing are acute and common reactions.

An estimated 92 percent of the world’s population live in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution and, even at seemingly imperceptible levels, air pollution can increase one’s risk of cardiovascular and premature death.



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Written by

Tony Winterburn

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