LONDON (Reuters) - Air pollution has cut the average life expectancy of Europeans by nearly a year and contributes to the premature deaths of hundreds of thousands of people annually, the European Environment Agency said on Wednesday.
More than 100 million people in the region encompassing 53 countries also lack access to safe drinking water, a problem most acute in rural areas, the group which compiles data for the European Union said in a report.
Levels of air pollution reduce life expectancy by as much as two years in the most affected areas of Belgium, the Netherlands, northern Italy and parts of Poland and Hungary, the report said.
"Poor air quality is still causing hundreds of thousands of premature deaths in Europe every year and continues to damage crops and ecosystem health," the report said.
"The estimated annual loss of life is significantly greater than that due to car accidents."
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