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Breathing European air shortens lives: Report

Published on Sep 24, 2012 4:25 PM

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - Microscopic particles, among the most harmful forms of air pollution, are still found at dangerous levels in Europe, although law has cut some toxins from exhaust fumes and chimneys, a European Environmental Agency (EEA) report said.

On average, air pollution is cutting human lives by roughly eight months and by about two years in the worst affected regions, such as industrial parts of eastern Europe, because it causes diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular problems.

"European Union (EU) policy has reduced emissions of many pollutants over the last decade, but we can go further," EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said in a statement on Monday, highlighting the risks ahead of an upcoming review of relevant EU legislation.

"In many countries, air pollutant concentrations are still above the legal and recommended limits that are set to protect the health of European citizens." In a joint statement with the EEA, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said 2013 would be the year of air and he would focus on strengthening EU air quality laws.

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