Air pollution is the single biggest environmental health risk in Europe

02 December by Miriam Heale


According to a new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) more than 430,000 premature deaths in Europe each year are caused by air polllution.

The EEA’s Air Quality in Europe 2015 report  claims that people living in cities,  are exposed to air pollution levels that the World Health Organisation (WHO) would deem unsafe.

Particulate Matter up to 2.5 micrometers in size (PM2.5)  is linked to cardiovascular and lung diseases, heart attacks and arrhythmias, and in the UK has been suggested was responsible for 37,800 premature deaths in 2012.  Toxic gases such as O3 (Ozone) and NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) are also overly present in the atmosphere and the report claims have been responsible for 530 and 14,100 deaths in the UK, respectively.

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.”

He added: “It also has considerable economic impacts, increasing medical costs and reducing productivity through working days lost across the economy.”

The EEA report says: “Effective air quality policies require action and cooperation on global, European, national and local levels, which must reach across most economic sectors and engage the public.

“Holistic solutions must be found that involve technological development, structural changes, including the optimisation of infrastructures and urban planning, and behavioural changes. These will be necessary to achieve protection of the natural capital and to support economic prosperity and human well-being and social development, all of which are part of the EU's 2050 vision”.

Read report The EEA’s Air Quality in Europe 2015 report