The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that seven million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution. After more than 15 years, the WHO today released new air quality guidelines. However, these guidelines are only recommendations. In other words, they are not legally binding limit values, but only serve as a guide for the European Union.

The EU has formulated its own limit values ​​and wants to discuss possible changes by autumn 2022. According to the Federal Environment Agency, Germany is currently meeting its fine dust values.

Bad air and sickness

It is not easy to say which air pollution leads to which disease, explains pulmonologist Christian Gogoll. But fine dust pollution alone leads to a “whole potpourri of diseases”, according to the chief doctor of a lung clinic in Berlin.

These included cardiovascular disease, including an increased risk of stroke; Heart disease – and of course, respiratory disease like asthma. Tumor diseases of the lungs also develop. And the bronchitis could get worse from the exposure.

In pregnant women, fine dust pollution “leads to a shortened pregnancy, a lower birth weight and also a higher susceptibility of the child”.

The link between pollution and disease is clear, says Gogoll. “In environments clearly exposed to pollutants, we observe significantly higher rates of deterioration, for example asthma, under adverse environmental conditions. But these unfavorable environmental conditions also include our urban climate with drier and hotter summers.

More local public transport is not enough

But if the airways and lungs aren’t completely healthy, “it’s also likely that you can catch a virus faster. On the other hand, simply because the person with asthma is generally not at greater risk of developing Covid-19 disease. “

So what can improve air quality? Christian Gogoll is primarily concerned with making local public transport more attractive. But that alone is not enough, he stresses: “Exhaust gases are also created by the many suppliers of packaging, by trucks and industrial emissions.

Request for a ban on firecrackers

German environmental aid sees the federal government first: today it called for an early nationwide ban on the sale of terminals and rockets for New Year’s Eve. These lead to severe air pollution every year, damage millions of animals, pollute the environment and cause thousands of injuries, according to critics of environmental aid.

Subscribe to our weekend newsletter!

The most important cultural debates and recommendations of the week, delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Thank you for signing up!

We have sent you an email with a confirmation link.

If you don’t see a subscription confirmation email in your inbox, please check your spam folder.

Happy to see you again!

You have already subscribed to this newsletter.