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Health chiefs want urgent action over “killer heat and pollution” 

PAGE 20 HEALTH CHIEFS

Experts are calling for “urgent measures” after predicting the heat will cause up to 12,000 dea-ths per year in Spain in 2050.
In Spain, there are currently 1,400 deaths per year attributable to excess heat and these figures could rise to 12,000 in the 2050-2100 period if the necessary measures are not taken, according to Julio Díaz, an expert from the National School of Health of the Instituto de Salud Health Carlos III.
If this happens, it could cost some 50,000 million euros in terms of health, social and economic implications.
“We know that after a heat wave, hospital admissions increase in patients with Parkinson’s, for example. We must act now in areas and groups at risk, such as pregnant women, through prevention plans, “ the expert claimed during a conference organised by the ministries of Health and Ecological Transition to address air pollution and its implications in health.
Minister of Health, María Luisa Carcedo described this issue as “priority” for the “health risks involved.”
“Air pollution increases deaths from cardiovascular problems and respiratory diseases, also carries less weight at birth, more premature births and is known to affect psychological development during childhood,” she said.
According to the European Environment Agency, in 2015 some 38,600 premature deaths related to air pollution occurred in Spain.
“These data indicate that we must act on all factors, such as industrial emissions, heating or traffic, which are a key factor in cities,” said the minister.
“If we do not address this issue, it will get worse. The need to apply effective mea-sures to reduce exposure to pollution is evident. Health costs and hospital admissions, in short, would be reduced with courageous policies, such as good traffic management in the urban environment.”