Air Clean Up

  • Traffic and industry are still major causes behind air pollution

EU air pollution deaths cost economy billions every year

Oct 22 2013 Comments 0

More EU deaths are caused by illnesses related to air pollution than those as a result of road traffic accidents, according to a new report. The European Environment Agency's (EEA) latest research shows that air pollution costs the EU economy around €940 billion (£795 billion) every year due to the number of premature deaths it causes.

Both urban and rural areas continue to be affected by particulate pollution that is caused by combustion engines and industry, increasing the overall amount of air pollution that is created in the EU. Ground-level ozone and particulate matter are the two most troublesome forms of pollution when it comes to human health, the research found. 

These types of air pollution cause a range of health issues, including heart disease, respiratory problems and shortened life expectancy. Between 2009 and 2011 around 96 per cent of EU residents living in urban areas were subject to high levels of particulate matter and 98 per cent were exposed to increased levels of ozone. Continued exposure to these pollutants can lead to immediate and long term health problems.

According to Janez Potocnik, EU environment commissioner, the top environmental cause of death throughout EU Member States is air pollution. He added that not only is air pollution adding a huge cost to individual's health, it is also costing the economy a vast amount of money every year. The added economic cost is due to an increase in the number of people being hospitalised and the number of work days that are lost due to health problems affected by air pollution. 

Despite targets being put in place throughout the EU in a bid to reduce the amount of air pollution that is being generated, a high number of Member States are failing to meet them. However, Hans Bruyninckx, EEA executive director, said that even if all states were meeting these emissions targets the risk to human health would still remain. 

As World Health Organization's (WHO) guidelines are lower than EU air pollution limits, Mr Potocnik has said that work will be done to get Member States emissions rates in line with the healthier levels outlined by WHO. This could help to reduce the number of health problems and deaths that are linked to air pollution each year and reduce the strain on the economy.

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