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Sunday 18th March 2018

Early deaths link to air pollution

22nd March 2010

A Commons Environmental Audit Committee report has called for more action to be taken to combat the role of air pollution in the premature deaths of "up to 50,000 people" in the UK every year.


The report said the fact that pollution had not been tackled had resulted in "enormous" costs to the health service and could result in European Union fines costing millions of pounds.

The cost of pollution has been estimated at between £8.5 billion and £20.2 billion annually. The committee said changes needed to occur to reduce the damage caused by transport, which accounted for 70% of the pollution.

The report added that the UK's bad air quality contributed to asthma, cancer and heart disease.

Air pollution comprises ozone, nitrogen oxides and "particulate matter" (minute elements) from transport and power stations.

Particulate matter has been estimated to shorten people's lives on average by seven to eight months. In areas of high pollution, the report said people with asthma could be dying prematurely by up to nine years.

EAC chairman Tim Yeo said: "Air pollution probably causes more deaths than passive smoking, traffic accidents or obesity, yet it receives very little attention from government or the media."

"In the worst affected areas this invisible killer could be taking years off the lives of people most at risk, such as those with asthma." 

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