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expert reaction to study on air pollution and death

Research in The Lancet suggested exposure to tiny particles of soot or dust may be more deadly below current European Union (EU) air quality limits than previously thought. A before the headlines analysis accompanied these comments.


Prof Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London, said:

“This study enhances an increasing scientific evidence base that PM2.5 poses a danger to health at concentrations below current EU limit values and supports the ongoing WHO review of European air quality policies.  Results such as these, plus recently published data claiming combustion emissions in the US account for 200,000 premature deaths per year, show that policy measures have enormous potential to create a cleaner and healthier environment.

“It’s now important to effectively translate the scientific evidence into refined regulation and pollution control strategies in order to reduce the burden of disease attributable to ambient PM pollution.  Such action is particularly urgent in cities where concentrations of pollutants routinely breach current EU limit values, let alone the more stringent and health-based WHO guidelines – such as London.”


‘Effects of long-term exposure to air pollution on natural-cause mortality: an analysis of 22 European cohorts within the multicentre ESCAPE project’ published in The Lancet on Dec 9th 2013.

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