[Editorial] Scale of Europe’s air pollution problem demands more action
In December, 1952, London was gripped by a “great smog” that wreaked havoc on the city for days and resulted in several thousand deaths. The severity of the event provided a wake-up call to legislators and prompted a series of regulatory changes to address the problem of air pollution in UK cities, including the landmark Clean Air Act of 1956. 60 years on, however, the health effects of air pollution are still unacceptably high. In 2013 alone, exposure to one type of air pollution—particulate matter less than 2·5 μm in diameter (PM2.5)—was estimated to be responsible for almost 40 000 premature deaths in the UK.