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Air pollution costs European economies US$ 1.6 trillion a year in diseases and deaths

WHO Europe and OECD have released a report on the economic cost of the health impacts of air pollution in Europe. US$ 1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600,000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010.

This amount, according to the first-ever study of these costs conducted for the Region, is nearly equivalent to one tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the entire EU in 2013.

The new study was published at the Mid-term review of the WHO Europe Environment and Health Process meeting last week, which critically assessed the implementation of the 2010 Parma Declaration, in which all countries committed to the first-ever, time-bound goals on environment and health to protect children.

The economic value of deaths and diseases due to air pollution – US$ 1 600 000 000 000 – corresponds to the amount societies are willing to pay to avoid these deaths and diseases with necessary interventions. In these calculations, a value is attached to each death and disease, independent of the age of the person and which varies according to the national economic context.

Over 90% of citizens in the Region are exposed to annual levels of outdoor fine particulate matter that are above WHO’s air quality guidelines. This accounted for 482 000 premature deaths in 2012 from heart and respiratory diseases, blood vessel conditions and strokes, and lung cancer. In the same year, indoor air pollution resulted in an additional 117 200 premature deaths, five times more in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

You can read the WHO Europe press release and country specific figures here

You can read the full report here

Last updated on 8 May 2015

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