Call to tackle pollution 'role in 50,000 early deaths'

More could be done to prevent the early deaths of up to 50,000 people each year hastened by air pollution, MPs say.

A Commons Environmental Audit Committee report said failure to reduce pollution had put an "enormous" cost on the NHS and could cost millions in EU fines. It said the UK should be "ashamed" of its poor air quality which was contributing to conditions such as asthma, heart disease and cancer. The government accepted more could be done and would consider the report.

'Invisible killer'

Pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen oxides and "particulate matter" - tiny particles - from transport and power stations have been blamed for contributing to early deaths.

Particulate matter is estimated to reduce people's lives by an average seven to eight months, while in pollution hotspots vulnerable residents, such as those with asthma, could be dying up to nine years early, the report says. Air pollution also leads to damage to wildlife and agriculture, with ground-level ozone estimated to reduce wheat yields in the south of Britain by 5% to 15%.

Source - BBC

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