That the fine particulate matter were bad for your health is certainly not new. But further data collected on fine particles paint a clearer situation of their danger, giving even more voice and conviction to the battle to reduce the amount in the air we breathe. Research published in the British Medical Journal and conducted on over 325,000 adults in six European countries has revealed new information on these and other pollutants such asnitrogen dioxide e the so-called black carbon, formed by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Combustion engines in cars are responsible for the emissions of these particles, which however also come from thermal plants, fertilizer production, wood combustion, coal plants, agricultural and forest fires.
The study shows how even a low level (within the limits established by the institutions) of these pollutants can increase the risk for human health. The Effects of Low-Level Air Pollution: A Study in Europe (ELAPSE) project examined data from eight cohorts of adults, recruited between the 1990s and 2000s, in six regions of Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, France and Austria . The researchers analyzed air pollution levels and mortality data in the different regions over an average period of twenty years, taking into account the effect of large risk factors such as smoking and obesity.
“Over the time period considered, an increase in prolonged exposure to fine particles, nitrogen dioxide and black carbon was associated with a significantly increased risk of death from natural causes (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, respiratory disease) . Specifically, an increase of 5 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter or fine dust) was associated with a 13% increase in deaths; an increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of the nitrogen dioxide to a plus 8.6%. The rise in the mortality curve was evident, however, even when the levels of pollutants in the air were below the limits set by the World Health Organization., the European Union and the US Environmental Protection Agency“, We read on the website of the Umberto Veronesi Foundation, which reported the results of the research.
Might it be necessary to review the limits considered ‘safe’ for emissions of these particles? The European Commission is evaluating the next steps to be taken towards the Euro 7 standard for private transport; who knows if it will take this new scientific evidence into account.
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