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Air pollution deaths: Exhaust fumes are the biggest killer in Europe, new report finds

Pooling the data for the 857 cities, the figures show that the largest contributor to PM2.5 mortality is emissions from residential sources
Pooling the data for the 857 cities, the figures show that the largest contributor to PM2.5 mortality is emissions from residential sources Copyright ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP or licensors
Copyright ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP or licensors
By Euronews
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Air pollution is the largest environmental cause of mortality in Europe, according to a new study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.

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Transport, domestic activities and agriculture are the main contributors to air pollution-related deaths in European cities, a new study by the Institute for Global Health in Barcelona found. 

The research centre analysed two of the main pollutants in the atmosphere, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particle matter (PM2.5). Emissions from vehicles lead to 50 per cent of all NO2-related deaths, followed by industrial pollution and fumes generated by the energy sector.

Domestic activities such as the use of coal and gas-related heating systems, followed by agriculture, are the main contributors to PM2.5-related deaths.

Domestic activities accounted for more than 22 per cent of all air pollution-related deaths in 857 cities included in the report.

"If we look at NO2 and PM2.5 combined, traffic remains the largest contributor to both poor air quality and associated mortality," said Sasha Khomenko, ISGlobal researcher and the first author of the study.

However, the results varied from city to city, for example, in Lisbon, where air pollutants generated from agriculture are not a major issue, maritime pollution is of greater concern. 

Emissions from cruise and cargo ships are a big source of maritime traffic pollution which contributed to 10,116 air pollution-related deaths across Europe in 2022.

For more on this story, watch our report in the media player above.

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