Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Biggest Killer on Britain's Roads: Not Auto Accidents but Air Pollution

The conservative Daily Telegraph (here) reports today that nearly ten times more people in England die prematurely from automobile-related pollution than from automobile accidents. In 1998, 2,600 were killed in road accidents, while an estimated 24,000 died as a result of exposure to air pollutants from automobiles. And the problem has gotten worse since then. Depending on which methodology is used, between 35,000 and 51,000 people died prematurely in 2005 from ingesting small particles of pollution emitted by motor vehicles. Between 3,500 and 8,000 of those premature deaths are estimated to occur in London alone. The health effects alone of air pollution are estimated to cost Britain as much as 20 billion pounds each year. This, despite an extensive system of environmental laws that have been in effect for decades. The UK is currently in front of the European Court of Justice, charged with violating EU limits on particulate emissions.

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