08/14/2017

United Nations agencies urge Europe's action on 1.4 million annual deaths from polluted environments

The World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe), the
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations
Environment Programme (UN Environment) call on European leaders to scale up
action to prevent environment-related deaths and diseases affecting their
populations.

Each year, at least 1.4 million Europeans die prematurely due to polluted
environments; this corresponds to at least 15% of Europe's total deaths. Around
half of these deaths are due to outdoor and indoor air pollution. Altogether,
European citizens lose annually 50 million years of healthy life from
environmental risks.

"In the era of sustainable development, we can prevent the 1.4 million
environment-related deaths by making health a political choice across all
government sectors,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
"We urge all European leaders to take this opportunity for more sustainable
policies to address the health challenges of the 21st century.”

Environmental risk factors are responsible for around 26% of ischemic heart
disease, 25% of strokes and 17% of cancers in Europe. Cardiovascular deaths and
diseases from environmental exposures are three times higher in
lower-middle-income countries compared to high-income countries.

Air pollution is Europe's leading environmental killer, responsible for 620 000
deaths every year from outdoor (transport, industry, energy production) and
indoor (solid fuel combustion for heating and cooking, poor ventilation,
second-hand tobacco smoke) exposure.

Additional environmental factors, such as chemical pollution, noise,
occupational risks, unsafe water, poor sanitation and injuries, account for
more deaths and diseases. Diarrhoeal diseases caused by inadequate
drinking-water, toilets and hygiene lead to 14 deaths a day - an unacceptable
reality in Europe's 21st century. Road traffic injuries kill 85 000 people per
year.

Financial constraints, inequalities, extreme weather events from climate
change, a rise in noncommunicable diseases, the ageing of the population, rapid
urbanization and unprecedented levels of migration exacerbate environmental
impacts on the health of Europeans.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: World Health Organization (WHO)