Read online: The cost of traffic pollution

New research suggests that traffic pollution could be responsible for more than 11,000 premature deaths in Australia each year, with death from air pollution now ten times more likely than a fatal road accident. The study used a peer-reviewed New Zealand study of particulate matter (PM 2.5) and nitrogen dioxide levels, and estimated Australia's traffic pollution death toll at 11,105 premature deaths per year. Additionally, air pollution causes 12,210 cardiovascular hospitalisations, 6,840 respiratory hospitalisations, and 66,000 active asthma cases per year in the country.

Doctors for the Environment Australia spokesperson, Vicki Kotsirilos, has called for more detailed research to be conducted on the harmful effects of vehicle emissions. She also urged individuals to reduce pollution from their vehicles by walking, cycling, avoiding idling, and moving towards electric vehicles. Heart Foundation chief medical adviser and cardiologist, Garry Jennings, said policymakers should do everything possible to regulate emissions and have the cleanest fuels available.

Air pollution is caused by both man-made and natural sources, including heavy industry, vehicle emissions, and wood fire heaters, as well as dust storms and bushfires. It has been linked to illnesses such as stroke, diabetes, asthma, lung cancer, premature birth, and low birth weight. The study's authors are calling for emissions regulation and more electric vehicles in Australia to reduce the social, economic, and human costs of vehicle emissions.

You can read the original article on the ABC News website.



Our take

It's great to have this sort of research undertaken if it allows us to take practical steps to making things better. We need to recognise that EV are only part of the solution, and that, today, EV are not the best vehicle of choice for all possible use cases. But we need to start somewhere and having a baseline helps us measure the impact of our efforts.