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 user 2005-03-02 at 9:20:00 am Views: 45
  • #10618
    Air pollution causes early deaths
    Air pollution is responsible for 310,000 premature deaths in
    Europe each year, research suggests.

    A study by the
    European Commission calculated that air pollution reduces life
    Expectancy by an average of almost nine months across the European

    Poor Quality air is thought to result in more than 32,000 premature deaths in
    the UK each year alone.

    Experts say many of these deaths could be avoided if measures were put in
    place to cut pollution levels.

    Premature deaths due to particulate matter

    Germany 65,088
    Italy 39,436
    France 36,868
    UK 32,652
    Poland 27,934
    Spain 13,939
    Netherlands 13,123
    Hungary 11,067
    Belgium 10,669
    Czech Republic 7,996
    Austria 4,634

    EU member states,

    The figures show every European takes on average half a day off
    sick a year due to illnesses linked to air pollution – costing the economy more
    than 80bn euros (£5.5bn).

    The main threat to health is posed by tiny particles known as particulate
    matter, which can penetrate deep into the respiratory tissue, and even directly
    into the bloodstream.

    They are emitted by traffic (particularly diesel engines), industry and
    domestic heating.

    Ozone produced when sunlight reacts with pollutants emitted by vehicle
    exhausts is also a major cause of respiratory disease.


    There are major variations between member states in terms of air pollution.

    The situation is the worst in Benelux area, Northern Italy, and new member
    states such as Poland and Hungary.

    Lost life expectancy is worst in Belgium, where on average people lose 13.6
    months of life, and the Netherlands, at 12.7 months.

    The Finns are the least affected, losing just 3.1 months on average, followed
    by the Irish at 3.9 months.

    The European Commission is to try to reduce the threat to health by adopting
    a new strategy on air pollution from May.

    Barbara Helfferich, an environment spokesperson for the Commission, told the
    BBC: “There are number of ways of doing this.

    “We can reduce burning of fossil fuel, we can use alternative energy sources,
    we can restrict traffic in inner cities.”

    Professor Andrew Peacock, of the British Thoracic Society, said: “We have
    known for some time that high levels of air pollution have a direct link to
    respiratory illnesses.

    “We would urge for this subject area to be looked into further and for the
    government to continue working with others to minimise pollution levels in this

    Government response

    A spokesperson for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
    said: “The government takes air pollution very seriously and we monitor air
    pollution levels very carefully.

    “Local authorities now have action plans to tackle pollution hotspots, and we
    have tighter controls to cut industrial emissions.

    “In general the long-term trend shows air quality is getting better, but
    there is still a lot to do to achieve even cleaner air, requiring local,
    national, and international action.”

    The spokesman said four Air Quality Strategy targets – for lead, carbon
    monoxide, benzene and 1,3-butadiene – had been met.

    The UK climate change programme was also being reviewed. This is intended to
    reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, but will also impact on levels of nitrogen
    dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particles