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Air pollution and the effects on your health

I love to go for a run in the forest close to our house. Breathing fresh air that comes straight from the trees. But wait! Apparently it is not only fresh air that is inspired into my lungs! A report by the EEA states that air pollutants cause yearly more than 430 000 premature deaths in Europe.

I was quite shocked reading the report of the European Environment Agency (EEA) which states that air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe. It causes heart disease, breathing problems, cancer and therefore shortens your life significantly. The report also states, that if you are living in a larger city, you are probably exposed to levels of air pollutants that are considered unsafe by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Cause of the health issues

The most dangerous pollutants for you are particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide. Particulate matter was responsible for 432 000 premature deaths in 2012. The impact of nitrogen dioxide and ozone caused about 75 000 and 17 000 deaths. The countries with the highest level of pollution are Germany, Italy, UK and France. It seems that industrial progress comes at a high price.

Particulate matter (PM) can cause or worsen diseases of the lungs and heart, but also cancer. In 2013, 87 percent of the urban population where exposed to levels that exceeded the WHO safety value. Also ozone (O3) exposure in cities remains very high. 98 percent of the EU urban populations were subject to O3 levels above the WHO guidelines. Ozone is not only dangerous for you, but also damages agricultural crops, forests and plants, resulting in reduced growth rates and yields. Nitrogen dioxide affects your airways, but also contributes to the development of particular matter and ozone.

Even so, the air quality has improved in recent decades, it is still affecting our general health, reduces the quality of our lives and life expectancy. But also economically, we have to deal with higher medical costs and reduced productivity through lost working days.

Reducing air pollution

Air pollution is caused by the industry and therefore by the daily choices you make. There are a lot of things you can do to reduce air pollution. If everyone contributes, we can improve air quality significantly. How? Using the bike or public transport is the obvious thing to do. But there is more: Toxic waste from burning plastic, paper and metal packaging in particular contribute negatively to the air quality around you.  Read our article with 7 tips for less waste and cleaner air to get started reducing waste.

Additionally, there are several things your can do to improve the indoor air quality at home. Our colleague Gerard has some tips to keep a fresh breeze inside in winter. Besides, you can place certain plants that affect the air quality, or if that is not enough use an air cleaner.

Would you like to know more about effective ways to create clean indoor air? Have a look at our air cleaners or contact us directly for individual advice.

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