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The 3M plant in Zwindrecht (near Antwerp), at the center of the PFAS contamination controversy, 7 September 2023 ©BelgaImage
The more fine particles in the air, the more visits to the doctor, according to a study published by Mutualités Libres. Better air quality would avoid 220,000 consultations a year in Belgium and thus save 43 million euros.
“Often indicates a medical emergency”
The Environmental Epidemiological Study of Free Mutual Societies in collaboration with KU Leuven, Hasselt University and the Interregional Environment Unit (Celine) exceeded the number of medical consultations of its branches with air quality and tree cover in their place. place of residence. “Areas with high concentrations of fine particles and less tree cover have shown an increase in GP visits both during office hours and also outside (evenings, nights and weekends) which is often a sign of a medical emergency“, explains Luk Bruyneel, health policy researcher at KULeuven and research associate at Mutualités Libres.
Assuming a cause-and-effect relationship that does not take into account explanatory variables such as individual behavior or disease risk factors, the study calculated the financial impact of GP consultations that could be avoided if all individuals lived in a neighborhood with low levels of fine particles. the lowest (4.91 to 7.49 μg/m³). Extrapolating to the population of Belgium, knowing that the Free Mutuals have 2 million members, these avoidable costs would reach 43 million euros, including more than 37 million covered by health insurance and almost 6 million for patients. And that’s just taking into account the direct costs of doctor visits, not the medications prescribed.
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