According to research by the Lung Fund, at least dozens of Dutch people have been forced to move due to poor air quality. The research was about people who became so ill due to dirty air that their quality of life was negatively impacted.
In a survey of 220 participants, 55 responded that they had moved to a different area to escape air pollution. The survey was distributed to 1000 people with lung disease and 220 of them responded. In addition, a dozen “air refugees” self reported via social media. More than a hundred respondents also said that they would like to move house immediately, but lacked the financial or practical means to do so.
The numbers are just the tip of the iceberg
“We are really shocked by these numbers,” says director Michael Rutgers of the Lung Fund. “Behind these figures are stories of desperate people who struggle daily with the effects of air pollution. We never expected that there would be so many air refugees in the Netherlands.” He also says that this is likely the tip of the iceberg in terms of air refugees- if this many people replied within a week, there are probably many more silently suffering.
What causes air pollution?
So what causes this pollution? A lot of things, not just traffic. Industry, intensive livestock farming, biomass plants and wood-burning stoves also pollute the air in the Netherlands. Exposure to particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone can cause and aggravate chronic bronchitis, asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases, among other illnesses. Every year, at least 11,000 Dutch people die prematurely due to air pollution. In the cases of one in five Dutch children with asthma, their diagnosis is related to air pollution from traffic.
“Our air simply needs to be cleaner”
Air pollution in the Netherlands has been recognised as a problem by the Remkes Commission, which recently released a report which suggested closing down polluting farms near nature reserves and lowering the speed on regional and national roads. The government is due to respond to these recommendations today. The Lung Fund has backed up these recommendations: “It cannot and should not be the case that people have to move in the Netherlands because of unhealthy air. Or even worse: would love to, but don’t have the means. Our air simply needs to be cleaner.”
Do you live in an area with bad air pollution? Are you considering moving because of it? Let us know in the comments below.
Feature Image: Pxhere