* Switzerland, Luxembourg among those facing highest costs
* Costs also high in Italy, Germany
* Member states working on implementing road charging law
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Feb 28 Air pollution from heavy goods
vehicles costs Europe 43 billion to 46 billion euros ($56-$60
billion) per year - a cost that could be passed on to the
hauliers, a report from the European Environment Agency said on
The bill is especially high in Switzerland and Luxembourg,
which are major transit routes and are landlocked. Heavily
indebted Italy is also suffering because of the health costs
linked to vehicle exhaust fumes.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) provides official data
to the Commission on the European Union and its neighbouring
Member states have until October this year to report on
their plans for implementing EU law on charging vehicles fairly
for using roads.
The law gives them the option to incorporate the health
costs of air pollution into charges for road use, which could
help to encourage a shift to cleaner vehicles, the EEA says.
"European economies rely on transporting goods long
distances. But there is also a hidden cost, paid in years of
reduced health and lost life. This cost is especially high for
those living close to Europe's major transport routes,"
Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European
Environment Agency, said.
"By incorporating these costs into the price of goods, we
can encourage healthier transport methods and cleaner
Air pollution is linked with cardiovascular disease and
cancer and other lung diseases. Overall, it is
estimated to cause 3 million sick days and 350,000 premature
deaths in Europe each year.
The financial cost of air pollution from all road transport
is estimated at 100 billion euros annually, of which nearly half
is from heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).
Fumes from diesel, which is used by most HGVs, cause more
air pollution per kilometre than from other fuels such as
petrol, the EEA said, and in landlocked countries it is more
difficult for the fumes to disperse.
The average cost of pollution from a 12-14 tonne lorry is
the highest in Switzerland at almost 12 euro cents per
kilometre, the EEA report said.
Costs are also high in Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy
and Romania at around 8 cents per kilometre.
In Cyprus, Finland and Malta, by contrast, the cost is
around half a euro cent per kilometre.
The European Commission is reviewing air quality laws and
has also said it particularly needs to address the issue of
diesel, which the World Health Organization last year linked to
($1 = 0.7628 euros)
(editing by Jane Baird)