Leipzig, Germany, May 23
By Elchin Mehdiyev - Trend:
Outdoor air pollution kills 3.7 million people across the world every year, and causes health problems from asthma to heart disease for many more, according to the World Health Organization.
he announcement was made by José Ángel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as part of the International Transport Form 2014 being held in Leipzig, Germany.
He said this is costing OECD societies plus the People's Republic of China and India an estimated USD 3.5 trillion a year in terms of the value of lives lost and ill health, and the trend is rising.
"But how much of the cost of those deaths and health problems is due to pollution from cars, trucks and motorcycles on our roads?" he wondered, "Initial evidence suggests that in OECD countries, road transport is likely responsible for about half the USD 1.7 trillion total."
Gurria said air pollution in OECD countries has fallen in recent years, helped by tighter emission controls on vehicles, but has increased in China and India as rapid growth in traffic has outpaced the adoption of tighter emission limits.
He stressed over the five-year period from 2005 to 2010, there was an overall increase of about 4 percent in the number of premature deaths globally caused by outdoor air pollution - with an improvement in the OECD world being offset by a larger deterioration in the rest of the world:
"These figures, based on new technologies for measuring pollution and improved analysis of health data, are far higher than those from previous studies of premature death and illness from air pollution."
He stated that calculating the economic cost of these health impacts, and how much is due to air pollution from road transport, requires estimating the value of lost lives or lost quality of life in the case of illness.
Gurria said there is a standard method for calculating the cost of lost life, but not for loss of health. Hence this study adds to the mortality cost a 10 percent margin for loss of health (morbidity), based on the best available evidence in recent studies:
"It is now possible to give a better calculation of the health impacts of air pollution and of the associated economic cost.
Available evidence and methodology suggest that about 50 percent of that cost in OECD countries is specifically attributable to road transport, although more work needs to be done to provide a robust calculation for the road transport share".