Poor air quality caused 412,000 premature deaths in Europe in 2016, the most recent year data is available, according to a report released this week by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Sixteen of the EU’s 28 member states reported at least one case of unacceptable levels of nitrogen dioxide that surpass legal EU limits. Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain were all found to have unsafe levels of the gas that’s among the major vehicle emissions.
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The report recommends European countries reduce the number of cars to lower nitrogen dioxide levels — and therefore air pollution.
The report referred to World Health Organization (WHO) figures that found heart disease and stroke were the most common reasons for premature death due to air pollution, followed by lung disease and lung cancer.
The study also found that certain groups including children, the elderly, pregnant women and people living close to roads and industrial areas were more vulnerable to its effects.