Industry Issues, Transport Features

Report suggests transport pollution contributes to premature deaths

The report reveals that failing to monitor air pollution from transport vehicles contributes to 11,000 deaths each year

A new report released by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) reveals inadequate laws and government inaction are contributing to an estimated 11,000 Australian premature deaths from transport pollution every year.

Residents of Sydney and Melbourne have been found to be regularly exposed to levels of transport pollution that are harmful to health.

Particularly, the levels found present a profound impact on the health of children, pregnant people, the elderly and people living with disability and chronic diseases. 

The report Toxic Transport: How Our Pollution Laws Are Failing to Protect Our Health found that Australian governments are failing to properly set targets and monitor air pollution that meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines.

As a result, there is an absence of measures to effectively protect people from the air pollution.

The EDO report calls for a coordinated, all-of-government response to improve the way air pollution is monitored and regulated, including adopting a comprehensive “exposure reduction framework” in line with WHO guidelines, at a minimum, to protect Australians from the harmful health impacts of pollution and help prevent unnecessary deaths.   

Policy and law reform director Rachel Walmsley says this problem is creating a serious threat to people’s wellbeing.

“Australia does not have laws which adequately measure transport pollution and reduce harm. Our laws must be brought into line with WHO air quality guidelines at a minimum, because the research shows that at the moment, significantly more Australians are dying prematurely from transport pollution than in road accidents,” she says.

“Transport connects us to everything. Yet our transport systems are largely reliant on petrol and diesel engines which emit toxic air pollution – particulates, nitrous oxides and other harmful pollutants – with serious threats to people’s wellbeing and our environment.

“Not only are Australians regularly exposed to levels of air pollution that exceed national targets, but our national targets themselves don’t meet international air quality targets set by the World Health Organisation.”

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