AROUND 12,000 people could die every year from excessive heat by 2050, up from about 1,400 currently, unless action is taken on climate change according to a health expert.
Julio Diaz, of the Carlos III Health Institute, said the death toll could rack up around €50 billion in social and economic costs.
He was speaking at a meeting organised by the Health and Ecology Ministries on the impact of pollution where he urged officials to act on climate change.
“We must act to help protect those at risk, such as pregnant women, with preventative plans,” Diaz said.
Maria Luisa Carcedo, Spain’s Health Minister, said the issue of pollution was a “priority” for health officials.
“If we do not address this issue and do not consider pollution detrimental to health, the situation will get worse,” Carcedo said.
Air pollution also leads to increases in deaths from heart and lung diseases, more babies being born underweight and premature, Carcedo added.
It comes as the most recent data from the European Environment Agency showed there were around 38,600 premature deaths caused by air pollution in Spain in 2015.