Sunday, 9 April 2017

Polluted air causes early death of up to 8,000 Czechs a year

ČTK |
12 January 2017

Prague, Jan 11 (CTK) - Polluted air in the Czech Republic cuts short the lives of 6,000 to 8,000 people a year, the Environment Ministry has written in its annual report based on the State Health Institute's (SZU) data, daily Pravo reported on Wednesday.

True, air pollution does not burden the whole country evenly and the extent and frequency mainly of dust particles differ at various places. However, in heavily afflicted areas such as the Ostrava area, north Moravia, it contributes to the early death of as many as 10 percent of the deceased, Pravo writes, citing SZU data.

In the past years, the annual average of Czechs dying of health troubles caused by air pollution has ranged between 6,000 and 8,000. Last year their number reached 5,500, the SZU said.

"It is a model estimate based on the international knowledge of air pollution's impact on people's health...An excessive presence of dust particles immediately and visibly affects the population," the daily quotes Helena Kazmarova, from the SZU, as saying.

According to her, air pollution cuts short people's lives by seven to eight months on average, compared with the life expectancy.

In Western countries, where the situation is better, air pollution cuts short people's lives by three months only, Kazmarova said.

Radim Sram, from the Institute of Experimental Medicine (UEM), told Pravo that studies have proved that in the brown coal mining areas in north Bohemia, the life expectancy of people, both men and women, has even decreased by two years in the past 20 years.

Studies indicate that the changes caused by air pollution persist within the population for decades.

Generally, the life expectancy of Czechs has increased in the given period, by six years for men and five for women, according to the Czech Statistical Office's demographic data.

Short-time daily increases in air pollution lead to growing sickness rate and mortality in the given areas, mainly cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as infant mortality and troubles of asthmatics, a ministry report writes, citing doctors.

Sram said high concentration of harmful substances also leads to an increase in the number of newborn babies with a low birth weight and damaged DNA. It negatively affects men's fertility and a rising number of children suffer from cardiovascular and tumoral diseases as well as diabetes, he said.

A genetic analysis of newborn babies in Prague and Ceske Budejovice, south Bohemia, proved that air pollution weakens the genes influencing immunity, Sram told Pravo.

The source of the smallest particles is obviously not only the traffic but also numerous construction sites from where dust spreads in the surrounding areas, making people suffocate.

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