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New study reveals alarming factor linked to 400,000 deaths annually: 'A severe public health crisis'

The findings are troubling.

The findings are troubling.

Photo Credit: iStock

Europe is proving a miserable World Health Organization statistic to be accurate.  

The Guardian reported that about 98% of the continent's populace is breathing polluted air. That aligns with WHO experts who estimate that 99% of people globally inhale crummy breaths. 

What's worse for Europeans, monitoring shows about two-thirds of residents are sucking in air that's more than double the pollution of WHO quality standards, and the pollution is linked to 400,000 deaths annually, per the Guardian. 

"This is a severe public health crisis," Utrecht University environmental Professor Roel Vermeulen, who led the research, told the newspaper. 

What was studied? 

Experts used satellites and 1,400 ground monitors to learn about Europe's air quality. The findings are troubling because the air pollution includes particulates, tiny particles of solids or liquids in the air that are inhaled, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) description. 

Forest fires and wood stoves can cause particulate pollution. But, burning dirty energy for industry and transportation also releases dirty air, which the Guardian reported is churning out most of Europe's poor atmosphere. 

What's the impact? 

The particulate pollution can end up in our bloodstreams, according to the Guardian, and the CDC reports that eye irritation, trouble breathing, and cancer are possible repercussions. Air pollution, as part of planet-wide overheating, has even been linked to poor classroom performance. 

Experts said the reality in Europe is even worse, with hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. In Germany, France, and Spain, no less than 37% of the population live with air at double WHO standards — in Germany, it's 75%, the Guardian reported

Eastern Europe, however, is the worst region, appearing to be darkened with coal dust on a map shared by the newspaper that blotches the areas with the most smog. 

"What we see quite clearly is that nearly everyone in Europe is breathing unhealthy air," Vermeulen said

What can help? 

Air filters provide an immediate way to take control of your indoor atmosphere. Surprisingly, outdoor versions are in operation in India to clean city air. 

For lasting change, education and smart, planet-friendly lifestyle choices can help to prevent more pollution from dirtying our air. Recycling, using renewable energy, and simply planting a tree are some of the suggestions from Just Energy. Even cutting back on beef in the weekly menu can promote a more sustainable food chain. 

These are just some ways to help reverse the smoggy disaster hovering in Europe. 

"These deaths are preventable," Dr. Hanna Boogaard of the U.S. Health Effects Institute, told the Guardian. 

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