Exposure to air pollution accounted for 7 million deaths worldwide in 2012, including almost 600,000 in the World Health Organisation (WHO) European Region. This is the central finding of the new WHO report, which assesses the burden of disease related to ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor) air pollution. Read more…
The report attributes 482,000 deaths to ambient air pollution and 117,200 deaths to household air pollution in the WHO European Region. Deaths from ambient air pollution occur across all European countries regardless of national income. In contrast, deaths due to household air pollution are more than five times greater in low- and middle-income countries compared with wealthier ones.
Air pollution is the largest contributor to the burden of disease from the environment. Adverse health impacts are due to exposure to small particulate matter (PM10) that causes cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancer. These new estimates, which are based on the latest WHO data on deaths and diseases from air pollution exposure, indicate that air pollution exposure is a more important risk factor for major non-communicable diseases – including ischaemic heart disease and stroke – than previously thought.
This latest scientific evidence strongly suggests that swift action is required to improve air quality, and reduce deaths and diseases associated with air pollution in Europe. The European Commission adopted a Clean Air Policy Package in December 2013. This consists of a new Clean Air Programme for Europe with new air quality objectives for the period up to 2030, a revised National Emissions Ceilings Directive with stricter national emissions limits for the six main pollutants and a proposal for a new Directive to reduce air pollution from medium-sized combustion installations.
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