Air pollution costs European economies US$ 1.6 trillion a year in diseases and deaths, new WHO study says

28 April 2015 – A staggering US$ 1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600 000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010, according to the first-ever study of these costs conducted for the Region. The amount is nearly equivalent to one tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the entire European Union in 2013.

Air pollution costs European economies US$ 1.6 trillion a year in diseases and deaths, new WHO study says

The new study was published today by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a 3-day high-level meeting on environment and health in Europe opens. Over 200 representatives from European countries and international and nongovernmental organizations gather in Haifa, Israel, on 28–30 April 2015 to look at achievements, gaps and challenges and set future priorities.

Evidence shows that air pollution at current levels in European cities is responsible for a significant burden of deaths, hospital admissions and exacerbation of symptoms. WHO/Europe works to make sure that the available evidence on the health risks of air pollution is used in public debate and in policy-making.

The air we breathe contains emissions from motor vehicles, industry, heating and commercial sources, as well as tobacco smoke and household fuels. Air pollution harms human health, particularly in those already vulnerable because of their age or existing health problems. Continue reading

Scotland breaks EU air quality standards as pollution becomes a ‘public health crisis’

The air pollution in Scotland’s towns and cities is creating a public health crisis, according to environmental campaigners. Scotland’s streets continue to break European air quality standards as the country wrestles with an invisible “public health crisis” costing thousands of lives and billions of pounds.

Scotland breaks EU air quality standards as pollution becomes a 'public health crisis'

This claim by Friends of the Earth Scotland came after they analysed official data for two toxic pollutants. The group said the latest figures showed pollution levels were continuing to break Scottish and European limits.

However, ministers defended their record, saying they were working hard, along with councils, to improve air quality. Friends of the Earth Scotland examined two key pollutants, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter – tiny particles which are pumped into the air by diesel vehicles.

Particulate matter is tiny ‘coarse’ particles released by diesel-fuelled vehicles that, like NO2, causes respiratory problems and exacerbates other health conditions. Experts estimate that Scottish air pollution kills 2,000 people a year — more than alcohol-related to road-accident deaths put together.

The environmental group said air pollution had worsened in several areas, including Whitehall Street in Dundee; it found that air pollution had worsened in several areas over the last year. High levels of NO2 are linked to asthma and other respiratory problems. Continue reading

Oxford Street named one of the most polluted places in the world

Oxford Street is now officially known as the area with the highest known concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the world. A toxic pollutant that can trigger asthma and heart attacks.

shutterstock_53878849Kamira /

Our country’s showcase shopping area has been named a world leader for diesel pollution due to the shopping strip being permanently congested with taxis and buses, whose diesel engines release large amounts of this gas.

We now know just how bad it is, however, for years’ retail and catering staff, office workers, council and utility workers, shoppers and tourists on this and other busy and polluted roads have been completely unaware of the dangers and risks associated with this invisible killer.

Successive Governments and Mayors have avoided the hard steps to tackle this blight that not only affects Oxford Street, but large swathes of London. Instead, the Government and civil service has downplayed the seriousness of the problem and systematically mislead both its own population and the European Commission. Continue reading