A new report from the University of Copenhagen states that particulate matter from burning wood and traffic causes at least 2000 heart disease related deaths every year in Denmark (population 5.7 million with a total 60,000 deaths per year). The number is based on data deriving from deaths from heart disease combined with the concentration af particulate matter in the air in relation to population density.
Nothing new, just sad old facts confirmed
Numbers in the thousands of deaths due to bad air quality is not new, but it is essential that this issue is pursued relentlessly. Politiken.dk who has had a first look at the new report, has more from the authors. One of the scientists behind the report, Zorana Jovanovic elaborates:
These are very high numbers and they indicate that we have severe problems with air pollution in Denmark. Everyone is exposed to a certain degree and it will take bold political decisions to come up with a solution.
It is important to note that people who has a heart condition in the first place from other causes are filtered out of these numbers, and thus the study clearly shows a connection between heart disease and air pollution.
Wood-burning stoves and diesel-burning cars
Kåre Press-Kristensen from the private environmental organisation ecocouncil.dk also comments the report:
In Copenhagen there are 16,000 wood-burning stoves. If they were replaced be other means of heating the particulate pollution would be reduced by 30%. That is equivalent to removing all cars from the streets of Copenhagen permanently.
Simon Rask from the Danish heart association has also been pondering on how to solve this problem, and he feels strongly that pollution from vehicles in the larger cities should be minimized. However, he does not have any specific suggestions: “We do not have a turn-key solution, but we are always willing to discuss it.”
The Danish environmental minister Esben Lunde Larsen has no comments…
No mention of EVs and wind power
Well, great. This is why I get confused about Danish politics. A few months ago the government approved lowering taxes on fossil fuel burning cars, while keeping the insane incremental tax-scheme on EVs that killed the market in 2016.
Denmark has the most robust wind power based grid in the world, and with the current infrastructure and trade with nuclear power from Sweden and Hydro power from Norway the country could easily power everything with clean electricity. If only the government would execute green politics instead of just boasting about them to the world.
This report is very welcome indeed, and it also goes to show that the issue of particulate pollution in other countries is huge, because we actually have some of the cleanest air by comparison. But lets not rest on our laurels. We must do better.
We do not need wood-burning stoves in this country, so let’s ban them. We do not need fossil fuel burning vehicles in this country, so let’s tax them hard. There you go, 60% of all particulate pollution gone. To get rid of the last 40% our neighbouring countries (and ships by the way) has to do the same though, because this thing is inherently airborne.
Why is it so hard to get things done when the logic is so clear? Particulates are produced by burning stuff. Particulates are inhaled and get trapped in human tissue. Particulates cause tissue inflammations that cause death. New technology is available now to replace the old. What are we waiting for? When will politicians (and voters) realize that killing off citizens is bad business?