Air pollution in the Czech Republic significantly contributed to the deaths of more than two thousand people last year, says a study on the state of the environment discussed by the Czech government.
The document cites small dust particles as the biggest health threat. Dust is able to enter the respiration system and it ties other harmful particles, including carcinogenic substances.
Due to high concentrations of dust particles produced by cars, heavy industry and ecological unfriendly heating in some houses, the Czech Republic has Europe's most polluted cities, together with Poland, Hungary, Benelux, Spain and Italy.
"It can be estimated that the presence of this harmful substance in the air in urban zones may have contributed to the increase of overall mortality by an average of 2 percent, by causing premature deaths of above all older and chronically ill people," said the study conducted by the Czech information agency about environment CENIA.
According to the statistical data, 107,000 people died last year in the Czech Republic, which puts the number of deaths caused by air pollution on roughly 2140 people.
Also, the document says that hundreds of people had to be hospitalized because of the problems caused by air pollution - some 750 patients with acute heart problems and 1200 with acute respiration difficulties. The study does not estimate how many people may have had the same difficulties, but did not go to the hospital.
Due to the presence of dust particles smaller than 10 micrometers in the air, the average length of life in Europe is reduced in average by 8.6 months. The study argues that small dust particles contribute to the premature deaths of roughly 500,000 people all over Europe every year.
A related problem is allergies and asthma. According to international estimates, roughly one fifth of the global population suffers from allergies, while at the end of the 20th century asthma had been one of the most common chronic illnesses.
In the Czech Republic, about one third of children suffer from various types of allergic illnesses caused by air pollution.
"The occurrence of asthma among Czech children is estimated at 5 to 15 percent depending on the age of the children and what scientific method is used," the study says, adding that in the last ten years, the occurrence of allergic problems has been on the rise.