Foul air

Shortens life by two years in Europe

Published: Saturday 15 January 2005

Fine particles in the air Europeans breathe could reduce their life expectancy by two years or more, warn scientists at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.

The scientists modelled the effects of fine particulates across Europe in 2000. They say particulates in Europe cause the same loss of life expectancy as road accidents. The harmful particles come mainly from burning of fossil fuels and from motor vehicle exhausts.

"The situation is most acute in heavily industrialised areas such as Belgium, the Netherlands, northern Italy and parts of Russia and Ukraine, where fine particle pollution is reducing life expectancy by about two years, compared with a European average of eight months," says Markus Amann, a senior official at IIASA. Despite the pollution reduction measures planned by European countries up to 2010, the impacts of particulate matter will still be considerable in many areas, according to the scientists.

"All industrialised and developing countries have this problem... but scientific surveys have only been carried out in Europe and the US," Amann adds.

-- priyanka chandola

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