London has highest social cost from pollution out of any city in Europe

London has the highest social costs from pollution compared to any other city in Europe, a new report has found.

The report by the European Public Health Alliance calculated that in 2018 the public purse was dented by more than £10billion as a result of pollution on London’s roads.

“In absolute terms, London is the city with the highest social costs. In 2018, the loss in welfare for its 8.8 million inhabitants totalled €11.38 billion (£10.32bn),” the report claimed. 

This figure was reached by the combined costs of early deaths, hospital admissions, long term illnesses and lost working days.

The report found that more than 77 per cent of London’s pollution is caused by fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, which is generated by vehicle exhaust fumes. Diesel vehicles have been highlighted as one of the main contributors.

Heart disease, strokes and lung cancer are some of the health problems known to be related to PM2.5 pollution.

The report said the size of a city with and the level of pollution is a key driver calculating total social costs. The more people there are affected by pollution, the more people will need healthcare and loose working days.

The report breaks down the cost per head and London tops the list of UK cities with costs of £1,173 per person.

Air pollution levels in London have been at illegal levels for many years but a report from the Mayor of London earlier this month said The number of Londoners living in areas exceeding the legal limit for NO2 fell from over 2 million in 2016 to 119,000 in 2019, a reduction of 94 per cent.

A spokeswoman for the Mayor of London said: “Sadiq is doing everything in his power to stop Londoners breathing air so filthy that it damages children’s lungs and causes thousands of premature deaths.  

“The Ultra Low Emission Zone has already cut toxic air by more than a third and led to reductions in roadside NO2 in central London that are five times greater than the national average.

“However pollution isn’t just a central London problem, which is why in October 2021 we are expanding the ULEZ to the North and South circular, improving the lives and health of Londoners for years to come. 

“Sadiq has been calling on the government to match his ambition and step up, set ambitious national targets and provide the powers and funding we need to consign air pollution to the history books.”

Pictured: London by Alev Takil 


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