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Europe's toxic air: clearer but not clean

Published by Reuters UK - 10 April 2013

Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health, says that “the government needs to take responsibility” for the public health problem of poor air quality in Britain. 

Nearly half a million of the half-billion citizens of the European Union die a premature death each year because of the air they breathe, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA), an official EU organisation.

London, the continent's biggest city, has one of the biggest problems with air. It has the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) of any European capital; the colourless, odourless gas is produced by burning fuel and can damage people's breathing.

Environmental law firm ClientEarth has taken the British government to the Supreme Court in London to force it to come up with a revised plan to meet EU limits on NO2 concentrations by 2015; a decision is expected in the next few weeks.

The government has so far responded by saying air quality is on the whole good and that most British regions will achieve the EU standards by 2020, while London may take five years longer.

However, Professor Kelly said: “It's not good enough to say that we can wait to 2025.”

Read the full Reuters article.