Whilst the impact on our life expectancy is significant, environmental pollution also reduces our quality of life, as living with illnesses such as cancers and heart disease impacts on our wellbeing.
Air pollution is a major environmental health risk (WHO 2018). Air quality in Ireland is generally good, though there are localised issues across the country. The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates that there were 1,300 premature deaths in 2017 alone in Ireland due to PM2.5 air pollution.
Noise exposure is a health concern and not only an annoyance issue. The EEA estimates that long-term exposure to environmental noise from road traffic, railways, aircraft and industry contributes to 12,000 premature deaths each year in Europe.
There is a wide range of potential health impacts associated with climate change. In addition to physical health impacts, climate change can have profound impacts on psychological wellbeing and mental health.
Loss of biodiversity and species extinction affect the ecosystems on which we rely for health and wellbeing. Food production, pharmaceutical production are particularly impacted. Chemical exposure can also negatively influence quality of life.
Lack of access to clean and healthy green and blue spaces is associated with poorer outcomes for mental and physical health. Social inequity is a significant issue. These inequity issues have been recognised as part of the 2019 EU Green Deal, which highlights the need for a just transition to a more sustainable society.