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UK pollution death rate worse than Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, World Health Organisation reveals

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 17/05/2017 Ross Lydall

The UK’s death rate from air pollution is twice as high as the US and worse than Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, the World Health Organisation revealed today.

Levels of PM10 and PM2.5 particulates in Britain are twice as high as in Sweden, the EU’s cleanest nation, and worse than Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

And the UK has fallen from 17th to 22nd place in Europe in terms of the number of health workers per head of population — supporting concerns about the NHS being unable to cope with a growing, ageing and increasingly ill population.

The pollution figures add to concerns over the impact of toxic air on health. According to WHO’s World Health Statistics 2017 for the 194 UN member states, the UK had an average of 12.4 micrograms per cubic metre of air in urban areas, down 0.1 on the previous year.

This was only the 12th lowest figure in Europe.

The UK had 25.7 deaths per 100,000 people attributed to household and ambient air pollution. The US rate was 12.1, Brazil was 15.8, Mexico was 23.5 and Argentina 24.6.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “This report confirms that the deaths attributable to air pollution are higher in the UK than for many other comparable European countries.

"Air pollution is a public health crisis hitting our most vulnerable the hardest.

“The next Government needs to bring in a new Clean Air Act to protect the nation’s lung health.”

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