The minister stressed that "it is found that air pollutants are responsible for about 10,000 deaths a year," according to several studies from the National School of Health, the Carlos III Health Institute. He has insisted that figure could be higher. As he explained, it is estimated that there could even be 30,000 deaths related to breathing contaminated air.

For all these reasons, "the consequences of climate change are already a public health emergency," Carcedo insisted.

The minister has specified that about 10% of lung cancer cases are attributable to air pollution. Taking into account that it is estimated that in Spain this year about 30,000 new cases are diagnosed, around 3,000 could be avoided.

In the case of particles called PM (coming from combustion in fossil fuel engines especially) they are associated with 2,600 deaths per year. Its effect is observed, above all, in respiratory diseases.

On the other hand, the high presence of tropospheric ozone in the air produces about 500 deaths per year in Spain. In addition to mortality due to cardiovascular and respiratory causes, its effect on low birth weight and dementia has been observed.

The minister has also detailed the effects of nitrogen dioxide, related to the risk of premature mortality, premature births, low birth weight and other complications at birth, cognitive development disorders and poor lung function. It is estimated to cause about 3,300 deaths a year in Spain.

In addition, 1,700 cases of low birth weight (13% of this type of cases) and 2,400 premature births (17% of premature births) are attributed annually to air pollution.

It is time to act

For all this, the minister has said that "it is time to act now." As he insisted, "the health, social and economic cost of pollution is very high."

Carcedo recalled that the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare is working on the development of measures to prevent the high impact of air pollution on human health and prevent attributable mortality and morbidity.

These measures are included in the framework of the Air Plan and are intended to protect the health of the population while improving air quality. At the same time, he explained that work is being done in a coordinated manner in the Health and Environment Plan.

The minister explained that this plan includes a prevention plan for episodic pollution situations, whose main objective will be the prevention and reduction of the negative effects generated by episodic air pollution situations on the health of the population, particularly those groups considered as more vulnerable.

In addition, it will contemplate different levels of risk and action in situations of overcoming certain atmospheric pollutant levels based on air quality indices, so that it can be acted in advance where and when necessary.

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