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Improving air quality can save lives - studies

22.10.2002
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Improving air quality can save lives - studies
LONDON - Improving air quality by reducing pollution caused by traffic congestion and smog can save lives, scientists said.
Since Irish officials in Dublin banned the sale of coal in 1990, deaths from the lung and heart diseases have dropped. \"We estimated that there were about 243 fewer cardiovascular deaths and 116 fewer respiratory deaths per year in Dublin after the ban on coal sales,\" said Professor Luke Clancy, of St James\' Hospital in Dublin. \"These changes were seen immediately in the winter after introduction of the ban,\" he added in a report in The Lancet medical journal. Clancy and his team examined the impact on death rates in the Irish capital in the six years before and after the ban was introduced. It resulted in a 15 percent drop in deaths from respiratory diseases and a 10 percent slide in cardiovascular deaths. In a separate study in the magazine, Dutch scientists showed that people exposed to traffic fumes over a long period of time may have a shorter life expectancy than other people. Elderly residents who lived near a main road where concentrations of air pollutants were high were around twice as likely to die from heart and lung disease than people living further away, according to the research conducted by Dr Gerard Hoek of Utrecht University. \"These studies, on top of what has been known earlier, provide sufficient evidence to implement measures to reduce (pollution causing) particles from all sources emitting them,\" said Dr Annette Peters, of the National Research Centre for Environment and Health in Neuherberg, Germany. In a commentary in the journal she added that both coal-burning and traffic emissions are major sources of pollution worldwide. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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