Protesters in Brussels demanding cleaner air. -AFP
Most EU countries fail to meet the bloc's air quality standards and more than 1,000 Europeans die prematurely each day, ten times more than in road accidents, a watchdog said Tuesday.
The European Court of Auditors (ECA), the European Union body which scrutinises how the bloc spends its budget, said pollution's toll on health in Bulgaria and other eastern European countries was even worse than in Asian giants China and India.
It said the failures in the 28-nation bloc were all the more glaring as some EU guidelines were weaker than those suggested by the World Health Organization.
"Air pollution is the biggest environmental risk to health in the European Union," said Janusz Wojciechowski, the member of the Luxembourg-based ECA responsible for the report.
"In recent decades, EU policies have contributed to emission reductions, but air quality has not improved at the same rate and there are still considerable impacts on public health," he added.
The report blamed most of the 400,000 premature annual deaths in the bloc on high levels of particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ground level ozone.
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