Like smoking two packs a week
Onno van Schayck, Professor of Preventative Medicine at Care and Public Health Research Institute (Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences) has given a lecture on the effects of air pollution on our health: in the Netherlands our exposure is equivalent to two packs of cigarettes per week.
Van Schayck has done research into the adverse health effects of air pollution for more than 20 years and the somewhat worrying conclusion is that our particulate exposure in the Netherlands is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes per week; in Amsterdam it is as many as 6.5 cigarettes per day, even though cars with diesel engines and scooters are banned since the beginning of this year.
Particulate exposure not only affects our lungs; research suggests it is also affecting brain development in unborn babies. In the Netherlands, 12,000 deaths per year can be attributed to air pollution, around 20 times as many casualties as road accidents. Particulates from combustion engines are the worst offenders and van Schayck urges politicians to establish better public transport and more low-emission zones in cities.
The lecture was recorded for the Universiteit van Nederland and will also be broadcast on Dutch television. (The video is in Dutch only.)