People are often wondering if living in Brussels is good or bad for your health. The lecture, part of Agora Urban Master Classes in BOZAR, given by Patrick Deboosere, who is a demographer and leads the Interface Demography research group at VUB explained that the answer to this question is much more complex and multi-layered than it looks at first sight. His research on health and mortality in Brussels tries to disentangle the puzzle of urban health. It is a story about air quality and air pollution, about green areas and medical infrastructure, but also about inequality, poverty and migration.
Surprisingly or not, the statistic show that the Flemish part of Belgium has a better health compared to Wallonia. Patrick Deboosere explains that socio-economical status has a lot to do with it.
However, in terms of Brussels the self-assessed health results show that people in the northern part of the city are in worse condition compared to the people in the neighbourhoods like Uccle and Saint-Gilles in the South. “Aging in Brussels is good for your health, even though worse neighbourhoods equals worse health.’’
Apparently education plays a serious role into a person’s health. The importance of it showed striking results in Brussels. For the examined 25-year-olds people with a higher educational level, showed that 5% are in bad health. On the other side, young adults with primary education show 25% of bad health.
There are a lot of aspects to have in mind. For example, housing living conditions – damp and overcrowded places can worsen the immune system. A lot of people tend to forget that indoor pollution is just as dangerous as the outdoor bad emissions. “And smoking is your individual air pollution.”
Measures of health can be calculated in many different ways, says the expert. One of them shows the complex reflection in air pollution. While factories no longer produce such high levels deadly fumes, car ownership has drastically increased in the last decades and it shows.
Brussels is above the air pollution norms given by the World Health Organisation. Not only that, but Brussels is above the European Union normal levels.
1/3 of health problems are a result of human activity. The transport and the traffic are the two main pollutants followed by the industry. However, Brussels might not be the flattest and easiest city to cycle but this can really make a huge impact on the overall citizens being. Traffic pollution should be urgently taken into consideration but unfortunately, just as every social change, it takes time.