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10,000 die from air pollution each year

Published on 02/02/2006

2 February 2006

BRUSSELS — Alarming figures indicated on Thursday that more than 10,000 Belgians die prematurely each year due to fine particles in the air.

The revelations came as Belgium confronted its second day in succession of poor air quality due to high concentrations of fine particles.

The high level of pollution is being caused primarily by the current unusual weather situation, which is characterised by temperature inversions and low wind speeds.

The weather pattern has led to a reduced dilution of air pollution at various locations across the country. This has resulted in high concentrations of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, benzene and fine particles.

And although it is only the start of February, the acceptable level of fine particles in the air has already been breached 20 times this year.

That is alarming because on average, there are just 35 breaches recorded each year, news agency Belga reported.

A European study indicated last year that on an annual basis, 10,669 Belgian residents die prematurely due to the long-term effects of fine particles in the air.

An academic at the Leuven Catholic University also said that up to 30 people would probably die on Thursday as a direct result of the current poor air quality.

“Peaks such as we experienced on Wednesday and Thursday are — in the short-term — much more dangerous, especially for youths, the elderly and people who suffer from heart or lung problems,” Professor Ben Nemery said.

“Our study indicated that some 700 Flemish people die as a result of peaks of fine particles. On a day such as today, that means that an extra 20 to 30 people will die.”

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news