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Air Pollution costing the life of more than one person a day in Malta

28 medical and environmental organisations are calling for serious measures to improve local air quality.

The Centre of Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) this month issued a report showing that 11,000 deaths in Europe were avoided due to less consumption of fossil fuel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent studies show that on average in Malta more than 500 people die prematurely every year due to air pollution alone (see here and here). Maltese citizens reported the worst exposure to pollution according to a 2017 Eurostat study.  Air pollution fell drastically during COVID-19 outbreak restrictions in Malta and so did asthma attacks possibly due to both decrease in air pollution and restrictive measures. Another local hazard is ship pollution where studies show how a Mediterranean Emission Control Area (ECA) can prevent up to 6,000 lives annually in the region.

The organisations therefore recommend the following measures to be implemented and to persist even after the end of the pandemic:

  • taking interlinked health hazards – air and noise pollution, mental health and the obesity pandemic as seriously as the COVID-19 pandemic
  • better incentives for renewable energy sources and cleaner means of transport
  • green areas accessible to all members of the public
  • combining work and tutorship from home with conventional methods whenever possible to decrease unnecessary commuting and related emissions
  • better and safer infrastructure for both pedestrians and users of bicycles and similar means of transport
  • investment in improved public transport with possible addition of other transport means
  • better measures and infrastructure for shared and public transportation
  • larger permanent pedestrian zones in village cores and towns and long-term implementation of plans recently mentioned by Government
  • full and timely implementation of the National Air Pollution Control Programme
  • establishment of an Emission Control Area (ECA) in our seas to decrease seacraft emissions
  • measures tackling IT illiteracy in all age groups since both public and private services are now more dependent on digitalisation

The general public is encouraged to approach their parliamentary and local council representatives so that all stakeholders can come together and target one of the biggest avoidable health risk amongst us.

Figure 1 – Malta recorded by far the highest share of its population (26.5%) reporting that they had been exposed to pollution, grime or other environmental problems [Source]

Figure 2 – Ultrafine particle measurements taken at Senglea, with two cruise liners berthed in Valletta, and a third cruise liner leaving. Maximum concentration peaked at 74,000 pt/cm³ of ultrafine particles [Source]

Signed by:

  1. Association of Anaesthesiologists of Malta (AAM)
  2. Association of Private Family Doctors (APFD)
  3. Association of Surgeons of Malta (ASM)
  4. Attard Residents Environmental Network (AREN)
  5. Bicycle Advocacy Group (BAG)
  6. Birdlife Malta
  7. Creating A Positive Environmentally Resourceful Society (CAPERS)
  8. Din l-Art Ħelwa (DLĦ)
  9. Extinction Rebellion
  10. Family Medicine Trainees Malta
  11. Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA)
  12. Friends of the Earth Malta
  13. Futur Ambjent Wieħed
  14. Geriatric Medicine Society of Malta (GMSM)
  15. Green House
  16. IRMCo – Integrated Resources Management
  17. Malta Association of Psychiatric Trainees (MAPT)
  18. Malta Association of Psychiatry (MAP)
  19. Malta Medical Students’ Association (MMSA)
  20. Malta Association of Public Health Medicine (MAPHM)
  21. Maltese Association of Dermatology and Venereology (MADV)
  22. Maltese Association of Radiologists and Nuclear Medicine Physicians (MARNMP)
  23. Moviment Graffitti
  24. Malta Obesity Association
  25. Nature Trust – FEE Malta
  26. Ramblers’ Association of Malta
  27. The Archaeological Society Malta (ASM)
  28. Żminijietna – Voice of the Left

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