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Study celebrates the success of EU air quality policy amidst Brexit uncertainty

A study led by the University of Leeds has found that about 80,000 deaths are prevented each year due to the introduction of European Union (EU) policies and new technologies to reduce air pollution.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, is the first to look into the effectiveness of specific EU policies to reduce air pollution across Europe. It reveals that the policies have led to a 35% reduction of fine particles in the atmosphere over the period 1970 to 2010, which has improved public health across Europe.

The good news, however, comes at a time when such policies face an uncertain future in light of a potential Brexit.

Study co-author Dr Dominick Spracklen, from the School of Earth & Environment at the University of Leeds, said: “Our work shows that EU policies have improved air quality. If the UK were to exit the EU, our air quality policy would no longer be subject to EU legislation, with potential implications for future air quality.

Map showing the number of premature deaths prevented each year due to the introduction of European Union (EU) policies and new technologies to reduce air pollution
This map shows the number of premature deaths prevented each year due to the introduction of European Union (EU) policies and new technologies to reduce air pollution. The numbers given are for a 4km by 4km grid square
Image Credit: Turnock et al., Environ. Res. Lett. (2016) licensed under CC-BY 3.0