The effect of long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with increased mortality even when the pollution is below European Union limits, according to researchers at Utrecht University.
The researchers, led by Utrecht professor Rob Beelen, looked at 22 European studies on air pollution, covering almost 370,000 people in 13 countries.
They found mortality rates ‘remained significantly raised’ even when the research only included ‘participants exposed to pollutant concentrations lower than the European annual mean limit’.
The European norm is 25 micrograms per cubic metre but the research showed the risks are still significant at under 15 micrograms. A large proportion of the European population is exposed to such concentrations, the researchers said.
‘Our research shows there are significant health benefits to be achieved if air pollution levels are reduced still further,’ Beelen said on the university website.