Experts estimate that vehicle emissions could cause over 11,000 deaths a year. 

Health impacts from vehicle emissions are likely to be far higher than previous figures informing policy decisions, according to the updated estimates. 

The latest research shows that vehicle emissions in Australia may cause:

●        11,105 premature deaths in adults per year

●        12,210 cardiovascular hospitalisations per year

●         6,840 respiratory hospitalisations per year

●         66,000 active asthma cases per year

While significant public funds are rightly spent raising awareness for the accident road toll, traffic pollution causes ten times more premature deaths than road accidents, which killed 1,123 people in 2021.

The numbers were formulated by scaling the most recent research on New Zealand vehicle-emission impacts, the New Zealand HAPINZ 3.0 study, to the Australian population.

Recent international evidence suggests traffic emissions are associated with far greater health consequences than previously thought.

Figures used by policy makers to date are far lower, according to available information, with none estimating more than 2,000 premature deaths per year in Australia.

Other health consequences include a range of cardio-respiratory diseases including lung cancer and childhood asthma, as well as adverse birth outcomes and diabetes.

Children and unborn babies are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.

Those chronically exposed to traffic pollution are far more likely to have asthma, respiratory infections, and even stunted lung growth and organ damage.

These health effects are caused by a mix of pollutants including fine particulate matter (PM2.5) - tiny solid particles that can be inhaled and even enter the bloodstream - and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Currently, Australian estimates do not factor in NO2 gas emissions, with the result that previous figures significantly underestimate the real health impacts and no current robust estimates of vehicle-emission impacts exist to guide policy makers.

While every other country in the OECD has standards for the amount of pollution new vehicles can emit, Australia has some of the most polluting vehicles in the world.

Australia is the only OECD country without new vehicle carbon dioxide standards and lags a decade behind European standards for fuel quality and vehicle emissions.

Melbourne Climate Futures has released a position statement, which calls for urgent action