Medical and environmental organisations call for serious measures to improve local air quality.

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. 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
➡ introducing better incentives for renewable energy sources and cleaner means of transport
➡ making 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
➡ building better and safer infrastructure for both pedestrians and users of bicycles and similar means of transport
➡ investing in improved public transport with possible addition of other transport means
➡ providing better measures and infrastructure for shared and public transportation
➡ creating larger permanent pedestrian zones in village cores and towns and ensuring the long-term implementation of plans recently mentioned by Government
➡ ensuring full and timely implementation of the National Air Pollution Control Programme
➡ establishing an Emission Control Area (ECA) in our seas to decrease seacraft emissions
➡ introducing 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.

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Association of Anaesthesiologists of Malta I Association of Private Family Doctors I Association of Surgeons of Malta I Attard Residents Environmental Network I Bicycle Advocacy Group I BirdLife Malta I Capers Malta I Din l-Art Helwa I Extinction Rebellion Malta I Family Medicine Trainees Malta I FAA Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar I Friends of the Earth Malta I Futur Ambjent Wieħed I Geriatric Medicine Society of Malta I GreenHouse I IRMCo – Integrated Resources Management I Malta Association of Psychiatric Trainees – MAPT I Maltese Association Of Psychiatry I MAPHM – Malta Association of Public Health Medicine I MMSA – Malta Medical Students’ Association I Malta Obesity Association I Maltese Association of Dermatology and Venereology I Maltese Association of Radiologists and Nuclear Medicine Physicians I Moviment Graffitti I Nature Trust – FEE Malta I Ramblers Malta I Archaeological Society Malta I Żminijietna – Voice of the Left