Praha - Small elements of dust produced by old-fashioned heating stoves, exhaust pipes of cars, or factory smokestacks kill thousands of people in the Czech Republic every year.
According to the Ministry of Environment's report, as much as 12,400 persons are believed to have died because of smog last year. This means up to 13 per cent of the total number of deaths in this country can be attributed to the problem of air pollution.
More than 100 thousand people died in 2006 altogether.
The worst record has Ostrava-Karviná coal basin, where the concentration of harmful substances including cancer-causing carcinogens is the highest.
The report informs that children living in Ostrava or similarly polluted zones suffer from bronchitis and other respiratory diseases up to five times more often than their peers from the cleanest regions.
Allergies on the rise
In addition, last ten years have seen an unusual increase of allergies among children.
If compared to 1996, the number of children with allergies in 2001 had grown by 50 per cent. "In 2006, we have observed a similarly penetrative increase," assured the Ministry in its report.
Even more alarmingly, tumor diseases are on the increase in areas affected by higher emissions. In major cities, there are usually about two cases of cancer caused by polluted air in every 100 thousand people.
In industrially more advanced regions, however, it can be as much as ten in one hundred thousand.
Only one in three people gets clean air
Polluted air affects the majority of the nation, not only urban-dwellers, but rural population as well.
According to the Minister of Environment Martin Bursík, the positive trend of gradual improvement of the environment initiated in 1990s has stopped in the recent years. According to some indicators, it is even getting worse.
Regions with worsened quality of the air constitute 29 per cent of the territory, but host more than 60 per cent of the population," warns the report.