in

Malta worst in EU for pollution exposure

Transport Minister Ian Borg
Transport Minister Ian Borg. Photo: DOI / Clodagh Farrugia O'Neill.

Over a quarter of the Maltese population reported that they had been exposed to “pollution, grime, and other environmental problems” in 2017, according to new findings published by Eurostat.

The report published today shows that 26.5% of Maltese reported this exposure, compared to the European average of 14%.

This is a total of 12.5 percentage points above the European average, and makes the country the worst in the EU in terms of exposure to pollution.

The best countries in the bloc included Ireland (5.3%) and Croatia (6.3%).

Preliminary data for 2018 shows that this rose by 3.2 percentage points to 29.7% meaning Malta’s pollution problem is more than twice as bad as the average EU citizen has to face.

The EU average has remained constant since 2012, yet Malta’s has increased significantly since 2016.

Other countries with high reported exposure rates include Germany, Greece, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria.

The statistics were compiled by Eurostat as a part of their ‘Quality of Life Indicators’ relating to the natural and living environment. In 2017, they found that the exposure of urban populations to particulate matter air pollution was below the level recommended by the World Health Organisation.

 A recent study from the European Heart Journal estimated that some 800,000 people a year across the EU die from diseases brought on by pollution. They also found that the average person loses two years of life to it.

Malta’s figures are again worse than the EU average, of 129 deaths per 100,000, with 137 early deaths per 100,000 people. Deaths were caused by heart disease, respiratory tract illnesses, lung cancer and other related conditions.

The country was also named as the 8th worst country in the world for levels of asthma, behind Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, and Congo among others. Parliamentary figures tabled by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne have also revealed that there are a total of 26,429 chronic asthma sufferers in Malta, a number that increases by an average of five per day.

Despite this, Malta has failed to cap its emissions and instead has missed ‘every single target’ set by the EU, since the Labour Party came into power in 2013. Placing second to last after Cyprus, the country’s emissions have increased by as much as 50% in some sectors, suggesting that the government is doing little to tackle the problem.

After falling significantly short of their climate and emissions obligations, Malta balanced its shortfall by purchasing ‘Annual Emissions Allocations’ (AEAs) at a cost of thousands to taxpayers.

37 Days Until Race Day

Josianne Cutajar

Labour MEP spins conspiracy theories to cloud facts in Malta