UK has second-highest number of deaths from pollution in Europe
24 November 2016
Author: Daniel Puddicombe
The UK has the second-highest number of annual deaths caused by nitrogen dioxide in Europe, a new report has revealed.
According to European Environment Agency data, 11,940 premature deaths in the UK in 2013 were caused by NO2, a gas mainly emitted by diesel vehicles.
The UK is second to Italy in terms of early deaths, with more than 20,000 premature deaths recorded in 2013 in Italy, mainly due to industrial pollution according to the EEA.
In 2012, 14,100 early deaths in the UK were attributed to NO2 emissions.
The agency also revealed the UK is home to the worst NO2 'hotspot' in Europe, with Marylebone Road in London recording more than double the legal limit.
Sites in Germany and France make up the rest of the top 10.
"Emission reductions have led to improvements in air quality in Europe, but not enough to avoid unacceptable damage to human health and the environment," said Hans Bruyninckx, the EEA's executive director.
James Thornton, CEO of law firm ClientEarth - which brought, and won, a court case against the Government over the country's pollution levels - said tougher action needs to be taken. "Today's EEA report puts the UK in an unwanted position near the top of the table when it comes to premature deaths from exposure to NO2 pollution. The UK Government should be ashamed of these figures and must act now to protect the health of people in this country."