Covid-19 and Its Effects on Air Pollution – A look at Europe

Covid-19 and Its Effects on Air Pollution – A look at Europe

The Centre for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment or “CREA” for short, recently released an assessment of the air quality in European countries. These air quality metrics have been directly linked to the consumption of fossil fuels which has dramatically reduced during the pandemic.

To put these metrics into perspective,  due to the plummet in coal and oil consumption, about 11,000 air pollution-related deaths have been avoided in Europe. Some other avoided health impacts include 1.3 million fewer days of work absence, 6,000 fewer new cases of asthma in children, 1,900 avoided emergency room visits due to asthma attacks and 600 fewer preterm births. Most of these health impacts will be realised over coming months and years.

The health impact analysis also highlights the impact of air pollution on an already strained healthcare system. Air pollution directly aggravates existing respiratory conditions, making people more vulnerable to the coronavirus. The more people that require treatment, the more strain on the healthcare system.

According to the data, the dramatic reductions in coal and oil burning has resulted in a reduction of NOandPM10 levels. This has reflecting in the healthcare system as strain has eased. Furthermore, our analysis highlights the tremendous benefits for public health and quality of life that could be achieved by reducing the burning of fossil fuels in a sustainable way.

Air pollutant levels are plummeting as an unintended result of measures against the coronavirus but this should not be seen as a ‘silver lining’. It shows how normalized the massive death toll from air pollution has become, and suggests what can be achieved if there is a shift to cleaner sources of energy. When restrictions are fully lifted, European decision-makers can continue to implement policies to foster greener power and transport systems.

As we are all anxious for life and business to return to normal, no one is looking forward to the return of fossil fuel pollution. It is vital for European decision-makers to prioritize clean air, clean energy and clean transport as a part of the plans for recovering from the crisis.

CREA assessment

There is 1 comment
  1. Oh, you have to be careful of us elderly ones! You just never know! Never saw a sign like this one, but it isn’t a bad idea. We get pretty crazy. Valentia Gilburt Hadwyn

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