Air pollution: 307,000 deaths in Europe in 2019, a figure in slight decline

Fine particle pollution caused 307,000 premature deaths in the European Union in 2019. A figure down slightly by 10% compared to 2018, due in particular to favorable weather conditions.

According to the European Environment Agency (EEA) report released on Monday, more than half of those lives could be saved if all 27 member countries meet new air quality targets recently set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2018, the number of deaths linked to fine particles PM 2.5 (particles suspended in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers) was estimated at 346,000.

29,800 dead in France

The sharp drop in 2019 is partly explained by favorable weather conditions but above all by the continued gradual improvement in air quality in Europe, according to the EEA.

In the early 1990s, fine particles, which penetrate deep into the lungs, caused nearly a million premature deaths in the 27 EU countries, according to these data. A figure that had already fallen to around 450,000 in 2005.

Among the main EU countries, fine particle pollution was responsible in 2019 for 53,800 premature deaths in Germany, 49,900 in Italy, 29,800 in France and 23,300 in Spain, according to the EAA. With 39,300 dead, Poland is the country most affected in relation to its population.

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