European Union

1 in 8 deaths in Europe are linked to pollution, says EU

City workers cross the River Thames with the City of London financial district seen behind in London, in Britain October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville - LR1ECAR0Q5EH9

Air pollution and heatwaves exacerbated by climate change contribute to around 13% of all deaths in Europe. Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Kate Abnett
Reporter, Reuters
Share:
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how European Union is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

European Union

  • According from the European Environment Agency, air pollution and heatwaves exacerbated by climate change contribute to around 13% of all deaths in Europe.
  • The latest data, for 2012, reports that 630,000 deaths in the European Union’s 27 countries plus Britain were attributable to environmental factors.
  • It's vital these emissions are controlled, to heal reduce the number of deaths caused by diabetes, lung disease and cancer

Environmental factors such as air pollution and heatwaves exacerbated by climate change contribute to around 13% of all deaths in Europe, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA).

A total of 630,000 deaths in the European Union’s 27 countries plus Britain were attributable to environmental factors in 2012, the latest year for which data are available, EEA said in a report.

Have you read?

“These deaths are preventable and can be significantly reduced through efforts to improve environmental quality,” it said.

Air pollution is the biggest environmental health risk in Europe, contributing to more than 400,000 premature deaths each year. Prolonged exposure to pollutants can cause diabetes, lung disease and cancer, and early evidence suggests air pollution may be linked to higher death rates among COVID-19 patients.

Climate change air pollution health environment
The number of environment-related deaths per 100,000 people in Europe, based on the most recent data. Image: European Environment Agency

Europe’s pollution levels plummeted amid lockdowns imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, but the dip is expected to be temporary and most EU countries are on course to miss their targets to cut air pollutants in the next decade.

EEA said the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the connection between the environment and human health, demonstrating the increased risk of passing diseases from animals to humans as a result of environmental degradation and meat production.

“COVID-19 has been yet another wake-up call, making us acutely aware of the relationship between our ecosystems and our health,” EU health chief Stella Kyriakides said in a statement.

The European Commission has proposed EU targets to make agriculture more sustainable, by ringfencing natural habitats and curbing pesticide use, although farming groups have warned the goals could curb crop yields.

EEA said drinking water quality is consistently high across the EU, but it raised the alarm over the release of antibiotics through waste water treatment plants, which can spread antimicrobial resistance. Infections from drug-resistant bacteria cause roughly 25,000 deaths in the EU each year.

Loading...
Loading...
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
European UnionEuropean UnionClimate ChangeAir PollutionClimate ChangeCOVID-19Global Health
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

1:42

This EU law will make companies check their supply chains for forced labour

Kimberley Botwright and Spencer Feingold

March 27, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum