Air pollution is causing around 467,000 premature deaths in Europe every year, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned.
People in urban areas are especially at risk, with around 85% exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) at levels deemed harmful by the World Health Organization (WHO).
These particles are too small to see or smell, but have a devastating impact.
PM2.5 can cause or aggravate heart disease, asthma and lung cancer.
How big is the problem?
It’s pretty bad. Within the European Union (EU), more than 430,000 people died prematurely due to PM2.5 in 2013, the most recent year with figures available.
According to the EEA’s Air quality in Europe – 2016 report, the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – released by vehicles and central heating boilers – has an impact equivalent to 71,000 premature deaths a year.
Ground-level ozone (O3) is also killing people – an estimated 17,000 annually in the EU.
Unlike the …