Air Pollution is Biggest Environmental Health Risk in Europe
A new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) says that air pollution is responsible for an estimated 430,000 premature deaths in Europe every year. ‘Air Quality in Europe 2015’ uses data from monitoring stations across the EU to give a snapshot of pollution levels and provide estimates of premature deaths at country level.
The UK is one of the worst-performing EU states, with approximately 37,800 deaths from air pollution in 2013. Only Germany, Poland, Italy and France produced higher figures. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has claimed that the UK could save £53 billion if pollution levels dropped below current standards.
EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx said, “Despite continuous improvements in recent decades, air pollution is still affecting the general health of Europeans, reducing their quality of life and life expectancy. It also has considerable economic impacts, increasing medical costs and reducing productivity through working days lost across the economy.”
The major pollutants affecting health were found to be nitrogen dioxide, low-level ozone and particulates. In 2013, 87% of the EU’s urban population was exposed to PM2.5 concentrations which exceeded WHO limits.
Alongside health, air pollutants also have a significant harmful impact on plant life and ecosystems. The long-term objective for the protection of vegetation from ozone was exceeded in 86% of the EU.
You can download a full copy of the report HERE