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Health experts slam Turnbull government’s air pollution proposals

Gina McColl reports in the Brisbane Times (2.1.17) on criticisms of the federal government’s review of vehicle emissions and air pollution.

‘Doctors and health experts have criticised a government review of vehicle emissions and air pollution for under-reporting the health risks, sidelining the Minister for Health, and potentially putting thousands of Australians’ lives at risk.

‘Australian fuel quality and emissions standards are “appalling”, the atmospheric and respiratory specialists say. Of the 35 countries in the OECD, our petrol quality is ranked last, below Mexico, Turkey and Estonia.

Draft proposals to address these quality concerns were quietly released days before Christmas by the Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, and the Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher.

‘The review acknowledges 1483 premature deaths in 2012 were due to outdoor air pollution (a sharp increase from 882 in 2005), about half of which could be attributed to road transport pollution. It indicates the cost to the Australian economy from these premature deaths at $7.8 billion.

‘But environmental scientists say these figures are understated, with one study estimating around 3000 deaths a year in Australia are attributable to air pollution. They say the government’s modelling also overlooks recent research and extrapolates from OECD data in ways that may significantly discount the current Australian health costs and contribution of pollution to local mortality and morbidity rates.’

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