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Clearing the air over Europe, and elsewhere

Editorial published this January inThe Lancet

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Clearing the air over Europe, and elsewhere

In Europe, 2013 was the “year of air”, and in late December the European Commission announced a new policy package aiming to clean up Europe’s air—by 2030. If apparently unambitious in its timeframe, the policy seems sensible because of the extremely damaging effects of air pollution on health. Risks of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, including lung cancer, are associated with air pollution, illnesses that are likely to be borne disproportionately by people of low socioeconomic status.

These risks provide a strong incentive on their own for action to reduce disease, limit health-care costs, and improve working productivity; in addition, the policy cites damage to natural and built environments caused by air pollution. By 2030, the policy estimates that spending some €3.3 billion per year on pollution mitigation across Europe could yield much greater annual aggregate savings worth at least €40 billion.

The health hazards of airborne pollutants have recently been well illustrated by the ESCAPE study, in which CREAL (Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology), ISGlobal alliance research centre, are included.
Including data from 22 European countries, Rob Beelen and colleagues documented an association between mortality and average annual exposure to PM2.5.

You could read the complete editorial, clicking here.


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