İrem UZUN -TDO- A study conducted by the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) shows improved air quality in Europe due to lockdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic has delivered health benefits equivalent to avoiding 11,300 premature deaths. Researchers extrapolated the likely impact on diseases caused or made worse by air pollution, which has fallen dramatically as hundreds of millions of people have stayed at home over the past month.
According to a report published on Thursday, sharp falls in road traffic and industrial emissions have resulted in 1,3 million fewer days of work absence, 6,000 fewer children developing asthma, 1,900 avoided emergency room visits and 600 fewer preterm births. Compared with the same period last year, levels of nitrogen dioxide have fallen by 40%, while tiny particulate matter is down 10%, which means that people without COVID-19 can breathe easier. These two forms of pollution, which weaken the heart and respiratory system, are together normally responsible for about 470,000 deaths in Europe each year.
The agency has compiled a top 10 list of European countries that have benefited most from the lockdown's subsequent impact on air quality. Near the top, just behind Germany, the UK is estimated to have avoided 1,752 fatalities due to lower levels of pollution. Germany had the highest number of avoided deaths, with 2,083. Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the (CREA) said "You could compare it to everyone in Europe stopping smoking for a month”. "Our analysis highlights the tremendous benefits for public health and quality of life that could be achieved by rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way".