According to a recent report in the European Heart Journal, air pollution is responsible for 8.8 million deaths worldwide, including 790,000 deaths in Europe, and 67,000 in France alone. The pathologies also diversify according to the pollutants affecting adults in several ways as well as the fetuses.
The tolerance limit for fine particles in Europe is currently 2.5 times higher than the standards set by the WHO. The sources of pollutants have evolved, before it was mainly pollutant from coal, diesel engines. Today, it is about ultra-fine particles. In urban areas, particles come from traffic, but also from certain pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide combined with ammonia, which comes for example from agriculture as well as from certain vehicles.
Air pollution: not only respiratory but also cardiovascular pathologies: stroke, heart attack
The pathologies diversify according to the nature of the pollutants. Initially, these were respiratory pathologies: chronic obstructive bronchopathy, lung cancer, triggering or aggravation of asthma. But there are now also cardiovascular diseases, because the ultra-fine particles will pass through the bloodstream and attach themselves to the arterial walls, causing thrombosis, stroke, infarction… It is also endocrine diseases such as diabetes that appear due to air pollution.
Athletes in town and pregnant women: it’s worse
We are also talking more and more about neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, and even pathologies that affect athletes who exercise near highways. There are also delays in fetal development and premature births, because the particles that pass through the bloodstream arrive in the placenta and end up in the fetus.
Jos Lelieveld: Cardiovascular disease burden from ambient air pollution in Europe reassessed using novel hazard ratio functions. European Heart Journal. doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehz135