RW Environment Ministry determines significant health risks from fine dust. Mortality on main roads almost doubled due to fine dust pollution
The particulate matter pollution on main roads is a serious health hazard. This was announced by the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Environment when presenting a comprehensive study on the relationship between air pollution, place of residence and mortality rate of women in NRW.
The Ministry of the Environment of North Rhine-Westphalia has presented the results of its "Fine dust cohort study women NRW 2008", which shows that women who live closer than 50 meters to a main road are subject to a general mortality rate that is more than 40 percent higher. With certain causes of death, such as cardiovascular diseases, the risk is even increased by almost 80 percent.
Fine dust causes a significant increase in mortality In order to investigate the health effects of air pollution, the pollutant data for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine dust (PM10) were selected as part of the study by the Ministry of the Environment of North Rhine-Westphalia. These were compared with the mortality rate of around 4,800 women between the ages of 50-59 from regions of North Rhine-Westphalia with different levels of stress. The results of the current final report are "alarming", said NRW Environment Minister Johannes Remmel (Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen). Both nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter cause a significant increase in mortality on the main roads. The Ministry of Environment of North Rhine-Westphalia warned that general mortality and specific mortality from cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attack), lung cancer and respiratory diseases are increased drastically by heavy air pollution. According to the results of the study, the general mortality rate increases by more than 40 percent for a place of residence in the immediate vicinity of a main road, and mortality in certain illnesses by up to 80 percent.
Environmental zones to minimize health risks Critics have long warned of the health consequences of high levels of air pollution, but official results have so far hardly provided the clear scientific results on the long-term effects that the study from NRW now presents. The discussion about the establishment of environmental zones in city centers or areas that are particularly exposed to traffic is thus once again gaining in importance. In the environmental zones, vehicles may only drive with a corresponding sticker that certifies that pollutant emissions are not above the prescribed values. In particular, the fine dust pollution in the air is to be significantly reduced.
In view of the alarming results of the current study, the NRW Environment Minister is now also considering a far-reaching environmental zone for the Ruhr area in order to minimize the health risks for the population. For Johannes Remmel there is "the political question of comprehensive environmental justice" because "financially better-off sections of the population can afford to avoid pollutants and noise pollution when choosing their place of residence. Those who are socially disadvantaged often have no choice but to live in places where the noise level and pollution levels are high, such as the main roads. This "undermines the fundamental right to physical integrity and a healthy life (...)", emphasized Remmel. (fp)
Read on this topic:
Health risks from fine dust remain high
High blood pressure due to fine dust in the city
Children: Reduced growth through coal heating
Image: O. Fischer / pixelio.de