5 Apr 2010.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

New Study Debunks Air Quality Alarmism
Exaggerated claims about the air quality effects on health are challenged by life expectancy data and a new comprehensive study
A new Scottish-Canadian study on the health effects of air pollution has been published1, which thoroughly debunks recent alarmist claims by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee that people lose seven to eight months off their lives due to air pollution, rising to eight to nine years in pollution hotspots.2
The authors of the new report address the weaknesses of previous studies by using longer data sets, allowing for the uncertainty of statistical models, smoking rates and socioeconomic variables. They conclude that the observed health effects of air pollution are very small and insignificant. This report was based on 20-40 year old data, which predates the widespread use of catalyser technology which has subsequently reduced vehicle emissions by 95%.
This backs up data shown in previous air quality reports suggesting that the only measurable correlation between air quality and death was that people already dying of chronic heart and lung diseases expired a few DAYS earlier than otherwise.
Furthermore, life expectancy at birth in the UK has reached its highest level on record for both males and females.3
The UK is also likely to be fined for failing to meet mandatory EU air quality targets4, which is rather ironic given the fact that some of the most significant air pollutants are blown over to the UK from mainland Europe. 5
MPs also point to the focus on the non-pollutant Carbon dioxide (CO₂), under the UK's unilateral CO₂ emissions targets, as exacerbating air pollution problems — a position with which the ABD has some sympathy. Policies encouraging the use of large diesel engined buses, biomass boilers and wood burning stoves, for example, have a detrimental effect on air quality.
ABD Environment spokesman Paul Biggs said:
“Air quality in the UK is estimated to be better than any time since the industrial revolution6. An objective and thorough examination of the evidence strongly suggests that alarmist claims about the health effects of air pollution are greatly exaggerated. Despite this, the UK faces being fined by the EU for failing to meet its air quality standards. No doubt car drivers will be disproportionately targeted and blamed, as usual, if the UK fails to avoid the EU fine.”

1. Air Pollution, Economic Activity and Respiratory Illness: Evidence from Canadian Cities, 1974-1994
by Gary M. Koop, University of Strathclyde; Ross McKitrick, University of Guelph Department of Economics; Lise A. Tole, University of Edinburgh Environmental Modeling and Software 2010; doi: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2010.01.010
Op Ed in The National Post (Canada) by Ross McKitrick - 'Where are the bodies?'
2. Daily Mail - Air pollution in the UK 'killing 50,000 people a year', warn MPs
3. Life Expectancy - UK Office for National Statistics
4. House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee - The costs of poor air quality
5. DEFRA - A proportion of the ozone experienced in the UK originates from releases of precursor pollutants which form ozone that are blown over from mainland Europe
6. Air Quality - Air Pollutant Emissions
Notes for Editors about the ABD