London, 15 June 1999.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Reports On World Health Organization Report Misleading
Three Key Points About Particulates and Health Missed
There have been headline reports on the Radio this morning concerning a newly published report by the World Health Organisation on particulate pollution.

The statement that "exhaust fumes are killing more people than road accidents and more must be done to curb them" is deeply misleading for three key reasons:

  1. Particulate pollution is not a car problem.
    According to UK government figures, only 26% of particulate emissions are down to transport. Only 5% is petrol related, the balance of 19% coming from diesel engines, disproportionately from the heavy units in trucks, BUSES and TRAINS. So all petrol cars could be removed from the road and it would not make any significant impact on this problem. The report does not claim any effects from petrol car related pollutants.

  2. These "premature deaths" are only brought forward by a few days.
    A similar report in was produced in Britain, resulting in broadly similar numbers of alleged deaths. The ABD has analysed this report in detail, and all it does is to correlate the deaths of already sick and dying people with levels of air pollution, attempting to strip out weather related and other occupational or sociological factors. When you are dealing with the causes of death of up to 70% of the population, it is easy to get a large number from a very small percentage. The ABD will look at the WHO report in similar detail. It is not reasonable to compare a road accident, which can rob a completely healthy person of 70 years of life, with a something that might bring forward by a week the death of someone already dying of cardiovascular or respiritory disease.

  3. The Particulate problem has been identified relatively recently and technology to reduce emissions is only now beginning to make an impact.
    Transport related particulate emissions are due to fall by between 60 and 80% from their early 1990s peak by 2010 due to technological solutions to clean up diesel exhausts. So it is not reasonable to say that extra measures are required to reduce emissions, suggesting by implication that they are not falling now.
Notes for Editors