Four Australians a day are dying because of air pollution, an international report has found, which puts the cost to the country at almost $6 billion a year.
The OECD research into the economic costs of air pollution found Australia is one of 14 nations where deaths from poor quality air have increased over recent years.
In Australia’s case, 882 people died from ambient air pollution in 2005. By 2010, this had increased to 1483.
Only one other OECD member nation, Estonia, had a bigger increase in air pollution-related deaths than Australia.
The lift in deaths has also led to an increase in the number of “life years” lost in Australia to air pollution. The OECD estimates Australians collectively lost 20,631 life years in 2010.
The ultimate cost to the country because of air pollution, from increased use of medicines to people too sick to do what they would like, is now estimated to be $6.25 billion.
The Department of Environment Regulation said air quality in Perth was rated “poor” on three days last year.
A spokeswoman said the Perth Air Quality Management Plan directly targeted vehicle emissions and smoky wood heaters. The Diesel National Environment Protection Measure also assisted with managing diesel engine emissions.
Associate Professor Ben Mullins of Curtin University’s School of Public Health said Perth’s air quality was generally good.