EU agency: air pollution costs exceed $134 billion

November 24, 2011 - 8:20 AM

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Air pollution cost Europe more than euro100 billion ($134 billion) in 2009 including by making workers sick and damaging crops, the European Union's environment agency said Thursday.

The energy sector had the highest pollution costs, followed by manufacturing and production processes, according to the report by the European Environment Agency.

The findings underscore the environmental and health impacts of fossil fuel-based power generation, "making the case for introducing cleaner types of energy even more urgent," EEA head Jacqueline McGlade said in a statement.

The EU agency's estimates were based on emissions statistics from Europe's 10,000 biggest-polluting industries. The calculations included costs related to health care and loss of productivity as well as impacts on crops and material damage.

The Copenhagen, Denmark-based EEA said those costs in 2009 amounted to euro102 billion-euro169 billion ($137 billion-$227 billion), with half of the costs caused by just 191 facilities.

Germany, Poland, Britain, France and Italy were the countries with the highest costs.

In addition to air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide, the report also estimated damage caused by emissions of heavy metals, organic micro-pollutants and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.