The European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Monday that air pollution remained a leading environmental health hazard which had caused 430,000 deaths in Europe since 2012.
A report by the Copenhagen-based agency listed particle pollution, ground-level ozone and nitrogen dioxide as causes of respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and cancer which continued to shortened lives.
The report, based on data compiled through 2013, defined particle pollution as a mixture of tiny particles and liquid droplets, comprising several components including acids, metals, soil or dust particles.
It added that a main source is the burning of biomass and coal.
Long-term exposure to particle pollution in the 40 countries covered in the report caused 432,000 premature deaths in 2012, while ground-level ozone and nitrogen dioxide jointly accounted for 92,000 premature deaths, the agency 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,” EEA director Hans Bruyninckx said in a statement.
Other losses include hospital costs, loss of work days, health problems, damage to buildings and lower crop yields.
The agency said that in 2013, 87 per cent of city dwellers in the European Union were exposed to particle pollution levels that exceeded the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) air quality standard, which is stricter than the EU’s.
According to the report, if the EU were to adopt the WHO standard, particle pollution concentrations would drop by about a third, and result in 144,000 fewer premature deaths.
The European Environment Agency is based in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city .