EU clean-air policy increased life expectancy in NL by 6 years

Sunset in Slufter nature reserve on Texel island
Sunset in Slufter nature reserve on Texel islandPhoto: photoweges/DepositPhotos

The European Union's policy on air quality led to much cleaner air in the Netherlands, according to a study by public health institute RIVM. Without the European measures implemented since the 1970s, air pollution in the country would be much higher and the average life expectancy in the Netherlands would be about six years lower, the RIVM said.

Due to the policies implemented in the EU, the average particulate matter in the Netherlands air decreased from 59 micrograms per cubic meter in 1980 to 12 micrograms per cubic meter in 2015, for example. Without these policies, the average particulate matter would have increased to 102 micrograms per cubic meter. 

As pollutants like particulate matter are harmful to people's health, less pollutants in the air means healthier air for Netherlands residents to breath. "Expressed in years of life, the European measures yield around 700,000 extra years of life per year, enough for an average of 6 extra years of life per inhabitant of the Netherlands", the RIVM said.

According to the RIVM, 56 percent of the decrease in air pollution was caused by reductions in emissions from sectors outside of the Netherlands. Industry was responsible for 54 percent of the reduction, agriculture for 23 percent, and the transport sector for 15 percent. 

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