Air pollution costs 166 billion euros per year, more than 1200 euros on average per capita


Smoke from a factory in the port of Antwerp (Belgian). Illustrative photo. (PHILIPPE CL? MENT / MAXPPP)

Pollution with particles or nitrogen oxide reduces life expectancy, causes many heart diseases, asthma. The same goes for the ozone pollution which prevents people from going out in the summer, which makes allergies worse. Health authorities estimate that they cause more than 400,000 premature deaths on the old continent. The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) has therefore looked at what happens when we mirror the data on these different pollutants collected by the European Environment Agency and the medical cost of hospitalizations, care, treatments but also work stoppages related to these diseases in 2018.

>>> See the map of this study on air pollution in Europe here

The British capital is in the lead because although these pollutants are at much better levels than in some Eastern European cities, the cost of medical treatment or work stoppages is higher than elsewhere. Bucharest comes next, followed by Berlin, Warsaw, Rome. Paris finds itself in 7th place. So these are mainly capitals: it makes sense, because they have more inhabitants who get sick from pollution. It costs them more and the city immediately produces much less wealth. On the other hand, if we look at the cost per inhabitant, this time Bucharest is in the lead, followed by Milan.

Our study reveals how toxic air is harmful to health but also how important inequalities exist between the different countries of Europe.

Sascha Marschang

EPHA General Secretary

The study took into account 76 cities in France where, on average, pollution costs 770 euros per inhabitant. It is in Paris, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, that it costs the most but even in Douai, Saint-Quentin or Melun, the inhabitants pay more than the average, around 1000 euros per year, because of the pollution air. Pau and Perpignan are doing the best in France. For the European classification, it is Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canaries.

This socio-economic approach to air pollution is a voluntary choice by the European alliance which carried out this study, to show that it can be profitable for cities to fight against this scourge which costs 166 billion euros. per year to Europe. For the authors of the report, the Covid-19 crisis should not obscure the subject, especially as they believe that not combating air pollution will worsen the co-morbidities of residents, who will suddenly become more vulnerable to coronavirus. One way of making people understand that for these cities to remain the economic lungs of their country, they must breathe better.

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