Despite major improvements in air quality in the past 50 years, long-term exposure to air pollution results in increased mortality, even when the pollution is below limits set by the European Union, new research shows.
The study showed that with each increase of 5mg per cubic meter of particulate matter, the risk that someone dies increases by seven percent. Europe’s air quality norm is 25 mg per cubic meter, but the research revealed the risks are still significant even under 15 mg.
“While air pollution has long been known to be detrimental to human health, this survey is a real bombshell because it flags up that the danger exists not just in smog laden cities but even in urban environments that many consider pristine,” says Johan Wennerström, Blueair head of research and development.
He noted that smog consists mainly of fine particles known as PM2.5 and gases such as carbon monoxide (CO) as well as ground level ozone, a harmful pollutant. Airborne PM2.5 particles are so small that they penetrate deep into the lungs.
Although traffic is a major source of PM2.5, factories and heating plants contribute to generating particulate matter that affects human health. PM2.5 is harmful for all humans, especially children, the elderly and people with heart and lung conditions like asthma and bronchitis.
Blueair has repeatedly called on the European Parliament to urgently tackle the problem of air pollution, especially indoor air contamination, to avoid potentially catastrophic health consequences. In May 2013, Blueair issued a White Paper in specifically addressing the health risks and wide range of diseases being sparked in homes and office by PM2.5 fine particles.
Conducted by Utrecht University, the study led by professor Rob Beelen, collected data from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE). This included data from 13 European countries and involved a total of 367,251 people.
“At Blueair, we again call on policy makers across Europe and elsewhere in the world to make more stringent guidelines on limiting air pollution, as recommended by WHO, an urgent priority,” said Mr. Wennerström.
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