Air pollution costs European economies US$ 1.6 trillion a year

A staggering 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 World Health Organization’s (WHO) European region in 2010. The amount is nearly equivalent to one tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the EU in 2013, says a new study by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Over 90 per cent of citizens in the 53 countries of 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.

Source: WHO press release, 28 April 2015.

In this issue