(21 October 2020) – Air pollution costs the average European city resident €1,276 per year, according to the largest study of its kind. Italy dominates top 10 cities for highest per capita costs.
The report for the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) quantifies the monetary value of premature death, medical treatment, lost working days and other health costs caused by the three air pollutants causing the most illness and death: particulate matter (PM), ozone (O₃) and nitrogen dioxide (NO₂).
The study examined 432 cities in all EU countries plus the UK, Norway and Switzerland. Added together, air pollution costs for city residents amount to €166 billion per year, or €385 million per city on average. When grouped by city rather than per capita cost, those living in big, expensive cities tend to face the highest pollution costs due to population density, higher earnings and expenses.
But cities in Central and Eastern Europe buck this trend and feature high in the impact table despite lower income levels as particularly bad air pollution takes its toll. Hence the average Bucharest resident faces the highest costs, at €3,004, while those in unpolluted Santa Cruz de Tenerife face the least, at €382.