Air pollution adds to European : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

WIRE:08/31/2000 12:27:00 ET Air pollution adds to European death toll - study

LONDON (Reuters) - Air pollution kills more than 40,000 people a year in Austria, France and Switzerland and contributes to 25,000 new cases of asthma and half a million asthma attacks, researchers said Friday. An assessment of the effects of pollution in the three European nations reported in The Lancet medical journal showed that pollution accounted for six percent of deaths each year and half of them were caused by pollution from road traffic. "Traffic-related air pollution remains a key target for public-health action in Europe," Dr Nino Kunzli, of the University of Basel, said in the study. He and his Austrian, French and Swiss colleagues calculated that the health costs of pollution from traffic across the three countries amounted to about 1.7 percent of the gross domestic product. "This assessment estimates the public health impacts of current patterns of air pollution. Although individual health risks of air pollution are relatively small, the public-health consequences are considerable," Kunzli said. In a commentary on the research in The Lancet, Stephanie London of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina and Isabelle Romieu of the Pan American Health Organization in Mexico said the findings should raise awareness about the problem of air pollution. "The method used by Kunzli and colleagues can be used to compare the current health costs of traffic with those of the alternatives, such as better mass transit, lower emission techniques and land-use planning to reduce sprawl and encourage cycling and walking," they said. The World Health Organization has called for a coordinated European transport policy to reduce the deadly effects of pollution.

-- iron lung (gasping@for.air), September 01, 2000

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