main banner
You are here: Home page » News » Latest news

Lancet research - Air pollution kills, even at guideline levels

A study published in The Lancet this month confirmed that current EU air quality legislation is far from sufficient to protect Europeans’ health. The study estimates that for every 5 micrograms per cubic metre increase in annual exposure to fine-particle pollution, the risk of dying rises by 7 per cent.

Few studies on long-term exposure to air pollution and mortality have been reported from Europe. Within the multicentre European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE), The Lancet aimed to investigate the association between natural-cause mortality and long-term exposure to several air pollutants.

Data was used from 22 European cohort studies, which created a total study population of 367 251 participants. All cohorts were general population samples, although some were restricted to one sex only. Residential exposure to air pollutants as annual average concentrations of PM was assessed and annual average concentrations of nitrogen oxides. Two traffic intensity variables was also investigated —traffic intensity on the nearest road (vehicles per day) and total traffic load on all major roads within a 100 m buffer

Findings

The total study population consisted of 367 251 participants who contributed 5 118 039 person-years at risk, of whom 29 076 died from a natural cause during follow-up. A significantly increased hazard ratio (HR) for PM2.5 was recorded.

HRs for PM2.5 remained significantly raised even when only participants exposed to pollutant concentrations lower than the European annual mean limit value of 25 μg/m3 were included.

Long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution was associated with natural-cause mortality, even within concentration ranges well below the present European annual mean limit value.

Full article available here (subscription only) http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2813%2962158-3/abstract

Last updated on 16 December 2013

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

Members

HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

Contact us

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)
28 Boulevard Charlemagne
B1000 Brussels, Belgium
Phone: +32 2 234 3640
Fax: +32 2 234 3649
E-mail: info@env-health.org
Press: Diana Smith

Direct telephone numbers: HEAL team page.

HEAL website privacy policy