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Exposure to air pollution harms our health, and reducing air pollution saves money. These were the two of the main messages from last month’s conference of air pollution scientists in Brussels. Held just a few hundred metres from the European Commission, it sent a clear message to EU policymakers about the opportunities from adopting ambitious targets.

Each year across the 27 EU member states about 412,000 people die early from particle pollution, but this is just part of the impact. Air pollution is also a factor in many of our chronic diseases; it harms our health from before birth, through childhood and into our old age.

Prof Barbara Hoffman, of the University of Düsseldorf, said: “Air pollution at current European levels is not for free – it comes at great costs in terms of hospital care, loss of working days, work incapacity and reduced intelligence in kids. All this translates into a huge and preventable expense.”

Pollutionwatch by Gray Fuller in the Guardian