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In Europe, 1 in 8 deaths linked to pollution

September 8, 2020

The EU's environment agency has detailed how environmental pollution has a deadly impact on Europe's population. Poorer and marginalized communities suffer the worst of it, according to the report.

Smog in Brussels
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/File/G. V. Wijngaert

The European Environment Agency (EEA) said in a report published Tuesday that 13% of deaths in Europe were the result of environmental pollution. The Copenhagen-based agency said environmental pollution caused more than 400,000 premature deaths in the EU per year.

"There is a clear link between the state of the environment and the health of our population," said EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius.

The report said the novel coronavirus pandemic had shown how vulnerable Europe's population was to "human health and ecosystem health." It noted that vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly, were at most risk of succumbing to environmental pollution.

Read more: Coronavirus: Air pollution might raise risk of fatality

"Poorer people are disproportionately exposed to air pollution and extreme weather, including heat waves and extreme cold," said the EEA report. "This is linked to where they live, work and go to school, often in socially deprived urban neighborhoods close to heavy traffic."

The report also noted discrepancies between eastern and western Europe.

Water quality ranked high, meanwhile, with bathing water deemed "excellent" in 85% of the test cases.

"Everyone must understand that by taking care of our planet we are not only saving ecosystems, but also lives, especially the ones who are the most vulnerable," Sinkevicius said.

Read more: Coronavirus inspires cities to push climate-friendly mobility

ls/msh (dpa, AFP)