William Eichler 06 June 2018

Car pollution costs health services £6bn a year, study reveals

Pollution from cars and vans costs £6bn per year in ‘health damages’, new research has revealed.

The University of Oxford has published an in-depth analysis into the health impact costs of the different types of vehicles on the road.

Commissioned by the sustainability charity Global Action Plan, the study found the health costs of diesel cars are significantly higher than petrol, electric and hybrid vehicles.

The findings revealed that the health damage effects associated with diesel vehicle emissions are around 20 times more than electric vehicles and at least five times more than those associated with petrol vehicles.

It is estimated that exposure to PM2.5 and NOX is linked to an estimated 40,000 premature deaths every year.

‘Cars and vans are responsible for 10,000 early deaths each year, and diesel vehicles are the main problem unfortunately,’ said Dr Christian Brand, University of Oxford’s School of Geography and Environment, and co-director of the UK Energy Research Centre.

Global Action Plan have also produced a league table highlighting the English regions that contribute the most to the cost of vehicles to the NHS.

London is at the top of the list with its vehicles costing the health service £605m per year. Birmingham is comes in second with its vehicles costing £150m per annum.

The research, which was also carried out in collaboration with the University of Bath, has generated location-specific per vehicle costs calculated for cars and vans.

The team used the DEFRA and COMEAP impact analysis, alongside fleet make up, pollutant emissions and miles driven to create a robust model of individual vehicle damage costs.

Chris Large, senior partner at Global Action Plan, said: ‘This report clearly illustrates the true cost of air pollution from each petrol and diesel car and van, particularly in inner cities.

‘Swapping one in four car journeys in urban areas for walking or cycling could save over £1.1bn in health damage costs per year. Switching one million cars from diesel to electric would save more than £360m per year in health costs from local air pollution.’

Referring to the special day the charity has organised for 21 June, Mr Large continued: ‘This demonstrates the impact that people’s individual choices can have, so we would look to the government to use Clean Air Day as a springboard for year round public engagement through its new clean air strategy.’

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