Published on December 6th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


$235 Billion = Annual Cost Of Air Pollution In EU

December 6th, 2014 by  

The European Environment Agency published a report recently stating that air pollution cost the EU up to $235 billion for the year 2012. Most of this air pollution is generated by coal-fired power plants. (In the US, the cost of coal-based pollution has been estimated to be $500 billion, but that goes beyond air pollution.)


Air pollution impacts human health, resulting in extra healthcare costs, lost productivity, and fewer work days. Other impacts are reduced crop yields and building damage. Particulate matter and ground-level ozone are two of the main pollutants that come from coal.

90% or more of Europeans living in cities are exposed to harmful air pollution. Bulgaria and Poland have some of the worst pollution of the European countries.

An estimated 400,000 premature deaths in European cities were linked to air pollution in 2011.

London is one of Europe’s most visited cities and yet it also has high levels of harmful air pollutants. Over 3,000 people living there in 2012 probably died from air pollution according to one estimate. Death from heart attacks and strokes can be increased by exposure to air pollution. (4,000 Londoners died in the Great Smog of 1952.)

Europe is a major global tourist destination, so it might be advantageous to that industry if coal-based air pollution is decreased.

An analysis of sustainable tourism in Europe wrote, logically, that improving environmental conditions has many benefits. “Many of these measures help a business to save costs, improve its competitiveness, stimulate the regional economy and improve sustainable development – and to fulfill the guests‘ expectations in this respect. Being able to do this, the business needs clear and reasonable aims,  practical instruments and assistance.”

It’s clear that coal must be phased out to reduce harmful air pollution. Countries like Germany and Denmark have recently signaled interest in going coal-free while admitting this is no easy task.

The number of premature deaths due to air pollution is outrageous, but somehow over the years it has become normalized to the point that we don’t respond too much, or simply don’t know what to do. Expanding clean energy sources such as solar and wind is definitely going to be part of the overall solution.

Image Credit: Alfred Palmer

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Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.

  • No way

    If huge polluters like Germany would have to pay large fines for the damage that they cause neighboring countries I’m sure the movement toward clean energy would be so much faster.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Since a lot of the electricity produced with coal in Germany is sold to neighboring countries would’t those counties have to pay for the damage they cause?

      Perhaps if those other countries had to pay they start installing some clean energy.

      • Ronald Brakels

        The countries would pay through the higher price for coal produced electricity. That would help encourage cleaner electricity.

      • No way

        With high enough fines for the polluters there would make no sense to produce coal power for export (unless it’s an emergency situation of some kind).

        So it would be an indirect kick in the ass for importing coal power too, forcing them to get their own clean energy for the last part of the need too or pay steep prices to not do it.

      • Will E

        first of all clean energy proved to be cheaper. clean cheap and easy to make a bucket of money. there is a change in the air

  • timpster

    If people would not turn on awful cheap ugly health issue ADHD causing fluorescent lights, and use skylights instead, this may be less of a problem.

    Yeah I know the room would be warmer, but is it hot outside right now? It’s not 80 – 90 F, so no, and it’s going to get much cooler, so welcome the heat.

    Also, set your computer to standby after 25 -30 minutes or less if you’re not Folding@Home because your computer isn’t doing a damn thing unless it’s downloading / installing files (or removing them)
    Set your monitor to turn off after (I recommend) 5 minutes unless watching a film, then just create (1 of 3 options in Windows) a profile to set the screen to turn off after 45 minutes, and switch back to the 5 minute one when you’re done.

    Use more energy efficient CPUs. Instead of using an old 775 socket CPU from Intel using who knows how many watts, (like i’m doing right now, just don’t have the $230 to spend on a new one) switch up for an more efficient CPU, and that information is out there.

    Turn off lights when you leave a room, ALWAYS.
    Turn off your computer speakers when not in use, I think that may use a good bit of power, because they don’t go to a low power state, would be interesting to know just how much power they pull.

    Go outside more, that should solve a lot!

  • JamesWimberley

    The range of the estimate is huge: from €59 billion to €189 billion euros in 2012, or 3:1. The report is limited to pollution from industrial facilities, so it excludes the damage from vehicles. This is large, especially from diesel engines. This is a major contributor to the death toll in London and other cities, so it’s additional to the EEA total. Health concerns are behind much of the support for the transport transition in European cities.

    • Will E

      when you kill one person you are a murderer. when you kill 100 thousands you are celebrated
      utilities, car producers, factories, fossil companies still get away with it.
      when the exhaust was to be captured inside the car, imagine what happens.

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