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Air pollution still too high across Europe finds EEA report

10 November 2018

Despite slow improvements, air pollution continues to exceed European Union and World Health Organization limits and guidelines, according to a new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

"Air pollution is an invisible killer and we need to step up our efforts to address the causes. In terms of air pollution, road transport emissions are often more harmful than those from other sources, as these happen at ground level and tend to occur in cities, close to people. That is why it is so important that Europe redoubles its efforts to reduce emissions caused by transport, energy and agriculture and invest in making them cleaner and more sustainable," said Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director.

"Air quality in Europe - 2018" presents the latest official air quality data reported by more than 2 500 monitoring stations across Europe in 2016. The report found that road transport is one of Europe’s main sources of air pollution, especially of harmful pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM), which cause significant harm to human health.

Air pollution also has considerable economic impacts, cutting lives short, increasing medical costs and reducing productivity across the economy through working days lost due to ill health.

Estimates in the report indicate that concentrations of PM2.5 were responsible for about 422 000 premature deaths in 41 European countries in 2015, of which around 391 000 were in the 28 EU Member States. A wider assessment included in this year’s report, looking back to 1990, shows that premature deaths due to PM2.5 have been cut by about half a million premature deaths per year thanks to the implementation of European air quality policies and the introduction of measures at national and local level which have led to cleaner cars and energy production.

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