"No one has died nor this [air pollution]. I don't want to generate an alarm of public health, because there is none. Madrid is one of the cities with the highest longevity in the world, and one of the best systems of transportation and every time you are renewing more boilers and vehicles". These statements of the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso (PP), on Wednesday in the string BE, have been left stunned scientists, environmentalists, and policy makers. Maria Neira (La Felguera, Oviedo, spain, 1962) is the director of the department of Public Health and the Environment of the World Health Organization (WHO) from 15 years ago. And does not understand the president of madrid. "From the scientific point of view I don't have any kind of explanation. Neither from the point of view of social and economic", he says in a telephone interview. And trench: "pollution kills".
Question. does pollution kill?
Response. pollution kills. The evidence is overwhelming since more than 30 years ago and there are more than 70,000 scientific publications that indicate that. And there is no discrepancy or disagreement in the scientific community. Upside down, every day we add more evidence and more knowledge about the effects that pollution has on our health. I also believe that common sense tells us that 100 years ago they lived in Europe with a lot of pollution that affected the health and we have been fighting against this situation. Today we know that economic development can also be achieved without affecting the health of the people.
MORE INFORMATIONAyuso denies that the pollution is costing lives: “No one has died from this,” to 30,000 premature deaths a year in Spain by the pollution
Q. Since when there is such a scientific certainty that the pollution kills and affects the health?
A. The evidence has accumulated from before, but with the rigor with which what we now know, with the studies that show clarísimamente these effects, we speak of more than 30 years ago. In addition, I think that is also a matter of intuition. Any asthmatic knows that if he breathes a polluted air he feels worse. There is not a need nor a great many scientific studies to know that if you live in New Delhi, Shanghai or Beijing you breathe only with great difficulty. And it is known that pollution has a very negative effect in the medium, short and long term.
Q. What diseases cause air pollution?
A. The first thing that is most affected are the respiratory system, our lungs. Arise chronic problems, such as asthma, or pneumonia acute. But is that such contaminating particles are also passed to the circulatory system and hence can reach any organ. That's why we know, for example, that a part of the stroke has to do with that exposure to polluted air. Now we know, also, that the particles cross the placental barrier and can affect the neurological development of fetuses that still have not even breathed the contaminated air. Every day we have more evidence and more evidence of the damage that these toxic particles can cause to our body.
Q. Always the talk of the premature deaths caused by pollution. What is meant by this term?
A. The term premature deaths refers to reducing the life expectancy. We speak of increased mortality after a certain age and reduces life expectancy. But, in addition, we are also talking about chronic diseases that produces air pollution. And these diseases will cost a lot to our healthcare systems.
Q. is There a scientific consensus on the premature deaths that cause the air pollution in the world?
A. there is absolutely no disagreement or debate on this issue. WHO gives a figure of seven million premature deaths a year, which is based on our methodology. Other methodologies, elevated to almost eight million. And then, with regard to diseases, there are no discrepancies either. I do not know of any university, or any academy of science who has studied the air pollution and raising discrepancies regarding the effects on health. The debate can be about how much more it affects health. For example, in the case of alzheimer's we are still studying their relationship against the pollution.
Q. From the point of view of science the evidence is greater each time. But, from the point of view of the policy considers that there is more skepticism in recent years?
A. there is No such debate. It is not acceptable because it is not based on science. The other way around. I have participated in the meetings of the C40, an association of the largest cities in the world against pollution, and I have seen with satisfaction how the mayors will undertake to achieve the recommendations of the WHO in 10 or 15 years. I have seen them commit, understand that it is a matter of public health. But it is also social. What mayor wants to boast of having polluted air? None. They want to boast that their city is clean and that you can breathe clean air. I think that progress has been made and there is a positive emulation among mayors, by that surprised the other type of statements.
Q. what attributes the statements of Diaz Ayuso?
A. I have No explanation. I don't know. From the scientific point of view I don't have any kind of explanation. Neither from the point of view of social and economic. Mayors, regional governors and the prime ministers are increasingly more engaged. That then do it or not, is another thing.Updated Date: 02 January 2020, 14:00