Monday, September 24, 2012

Air pollution is shortening lives by almost two years

You're likely to live two years less in some parts of Euorpe as a result of exposure to air pollution. A surprising fact for a region known to be more progressive on environmental issues than North America.

The European Environmental Agency (EEA) reported the facts today, strengthening the case for a tightening of emissions restrictions in the EU.

They also reported that legislation has been successful in cutting the amount of some toxins spewed out by exhaust fumes and chimneys across Europe, buy add there are still dangerous levels of microscopic particles, known as particulate matter and linked to diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular problems.

On average, air pollution was reducing human lives across the region by roughly eight months, the report said. It also quoted separate European Commission-funded research showing that a reduction in particulates levels could extend life expectancy by 22 months in some areas.

The report did not spell out where those areas were, but it said that Poland and other industrial regions of eastern Europe had particularly high levels or particulate pollution.

"This (the report) is a really serious warning about the importance to our quality of life and health,"  EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik told Reuters.

Apart from the impact on health, EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said that the pollution cost the bloc 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) a year in healthcare and dealing with the wider impact on ecosystems.

"European Union policy has reduced emissions of many pollutants over the last decade, but we can go further," she said.

Source: Reuters

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