“A polluted city makes people ill”

Experts warn of the effects that air pollution has on people’s health and the need to act. We’re starting a series of videos which will appear over the next few weeks, giving a voice to the medical and scientific community.

17/02/2020 19:02 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

Scientific studies have been showing for decades how breathing in polluted air harms our present and future health. According to data from the European Commission, air pollution causes ten times more premature deaths than road accidents. Levels of PM 2,5 in Barcelona are 70% higher than those established by the World Health Organization. This pollutant accounted for 351 deaths in the city in 2018.

Air pollution is particularly harsh for vulnerable groups, such as young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and people with cardiovascular or respiratory diseases. Among children, who are still developing their respiratory tree, poor quality air can affect their pulmonary function in the long term and lead to illness in adult life, as pointed out by Lluïsa Hernández, paediatrician in the intensive care unit at the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.

The way forward requires collective effort, achieving better air quality through changes in individual habits, according to family doctor Manel Anoro: “There have always been individual efforts to improve things for everyone. That’s why we have publicly run schools, that’s why we have public health services. With pollution we’ve got to do the same thing”. Jordi Sunyer, researcher with ISGlobal, which has been warning of the harmful effects of pollution for decades, adds: “It’s completely stupid us behaving in a way whereby we’re poisoning ourselves, poisoning our parents, poisoning our children. We can live in a city with the same air as they have in the Pyrenees. That’s not a dream. There are countries which are managing to do that”.

Barcelona City Council starts a series of videos which in the weeks to come will give a voice to the medical and scientific community. As the videos are published they will all be added to this play list.