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Noise pollution is a major environmental health problem in Europe.
Road traffic is the most widespread source of environmental noise, with an estimated 125 million people affected by harmful levels. Noise from railways, airports and industry are also important sources of noise.
The European Union's (EU) Seventh Environment Action Programme sets the objective that by 2020 noise pollution in the EU has significantly decreased, moving closer to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended levels.
It is not possible to assess whether past climate change has already affected water- and food-borne diseases in Europe, but the sensitivity of pathogens to climate factors suggest that climate change could be having effects on these diseases.
The number of vibriosis infections, which can be life-threatening, has increased substantially in Baltic Sea states since 1980. This increase has been linked to observed increases in sea surface temperature, which has improved environmental conditions for Vibrio species blooms in marine waters. The unprecedented number of vibriosis infections in 2014 has been attributed to the unprecedented 2014 heat wave in the Baltic region.
Increased temperatures could increase the risk of salmonellosis.
The risk of campylobacteriosis and cryptosporidiosis could increase in those regions where precipitation or extreme flooding is projected to increase.
Climate change can have an impact on food safety hazards throughout the food chain.
Heat waves and extreme cold spells are associated with decreases in general population well-being and with increases in mortality and morbidity, especially in vulnerable population groups. Temperature thresholds for health impacts differ according to the region and season.
The number of heat extremes has substantially increased across Europe in recent decades. Heat waves have caused tens of thousands of premature deaths in Europe since 2000.
It is virtually certain that the length, frequency and intensity of heat waves will increase in the future. This increase will lead to a substantial increase in mortality over the next decades, especially in vulnerable population groups, unless adaptation measures are taken.
Cold-related mortality is projected to decrease owing to better social, economic and housing conditions in many countries in Europe. There is inconclusive evidence about whether or not the projected warming will lead to a further substantial decrease in cold-related mortality.
River and coastal flooding have affected many millions of people in Europe since 2000. Flooding affects human health through drowning, heart attacks, injuries, infections, exposure to chemical hazards and mental health consequences. Disruption of services, including health services, safe water, sanitation and transportation ways, plays a major role in vulnerability.
Observed increases in heavy precipitation and extreme coastal water levels have increased the risk of river and coastal flooding in many European regions.
In the absence of additional adaptation, the projected increases in extreme precipitation events and in sea level would substantially increase the health risks associated with river and coastal flooding in Europe.
The transmission cycles of vector-borne diseases are sensitive to climatic factors, but disease risks are also affected by factors such as land use, vector control, human behaviour, population movements and public health capacities.
Climate change is regarded as the principal factor behind the observed move of the tick species Ixodes ricinus — the vector of Lyme borreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis in Europe — to higher latitudes and altitudes. Climate change is projected to lead to further northwards and upwards shifts in the distribution of Ixodes ricinus.
It is generally suspected that climate change has played (and will continue to play) a role in the expansion of other disease vectors, notably the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which can disseminate several diseases including dengue, chikungunya and Zika, and Phlebotomus species of sandflies, which transmit leishmaniasis.
The unprecedented upsurge in the number of human West Nile fever infections in the summer of 2010 in south-eastern Europe was preceded by extreme hot spells in this region. High temperature anomalies in July were identified as contributing factors to the recurrent outbreaks in the subsequent years.
There was no discernible trend in European ozone concentrations between 2003 and 2012, in terms of the annual mean of the daily maximum eight hour average measured at any type of station.
It is difficult to attribute observed ozone exceedences, or changes therein, to individual causes such as climate change.
Future climate change is expected to increase ozone concentrations, but this increase should not exceed 5 µg/m 3 by the middle of the century and would therefore likely be outweighed by reductions in ozone levels due to planned future emissions reductions.
End of the century projections for the effects of climate change involve an increase of up to 8 µg/m 3 in ozone concentrations .
It is still a challenge to achieve good air quality levels in Europe, especially in urban areas with high volumes of road traffic.
Despite considerable improvements over recent decades, air pollution is still responsible for around 467 000 premature deaths in Europe each year. It also continues to damage vegetation and ecosystems.
Transport contributes significantly to the emission of many air pollutants and the resulting poor air quality, particularly in urban areas with high road traffic volumes.
The annual EU limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ), one of the main air quality pollutants of concern and typically associated with vehicle emissions, was widely exceeded across Europe in 2014, with 94 % of all exceedances occurring at roadside monitoring locations.
In 2014, 16 % of the EU-28 urban population were exposed to PM 10 levels above the EU daily limit value, whereas 8 % were exposed to PM 2.5 levels above the EU target value. In 2014, transport also contributed to 15 % and 24 % of the total PM 10 and PM 2.5 primary emissions, respectively, in the EU Member States. Non-exhaust emissions are estimated to be about 50 % of the exhaust emissions of primary PM 10 and about 34 % of those of primary PM 2.5 .
For references, please go to http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/human/indicators or scan the QR code.
PDF generated on 27 Feb 2017, 04:37 PM
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