In “survival” situations, the so-called “rule of threes” is applied that aims to help establish priorities, as by identifying them and planning to take action in such cases is a key element to survival. “The rule of threes” means: 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. It is no coincidence that air is the first priority.
The air we breathe is increasingly more worrying and we need it to be healthy, not only because of COVID-19, but also due to contaminant levels. We must remember that environmental pollution and the illnesses that this causes represent an additional risk factor in the spread of the pandemic and, as a result, a critical factor for health.
According to the European Environment Agency, around 90% of Europe’s population lives in areas where air quality limit values are exceeded or where the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to protect health are not complied with. Indeed, according to the WHO, air pollution in cities and rural areas worldwide causes 4.2 million premature deaths every year. There are over 400,000 deaths in Europe alone, which in turn leads to healthcare costs of between €330bn and €940bn, or between 3% and 9% of EU GDP. All this considering that particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen oxides are contaminants that have a particularly negative impact on health.
By May López. Development Director, Businesses for Sustainable Mobility Platform