Health-related social costs of air pollution due to residential heating and cooking. In the EU27 and UK

Air pollution caused by transport, industrial and household activities using fossil fuels, and biomass is a problem in many European regions. Residential heating and cooking activities are major sources of greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, accounting for 84% of total household energy consumption (Eurostat, 2021c).

Air pollution is one of the greatest risks to health, causing strokes, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. These health effects lead to economic losses and welfare costs due to lower life expectancies, illness, greater healthcare spending and lower productivity.

In this study, we quantified these health-related social costs of outdoor air pollution caused by residential heating and cooking activities. We looked at the impact of seven air pollutants (PM2.5, NOx, NH3, SO2, CO, CH4 and NMVOCs) in the EU27+UK as a whole and in four individual countries (UK, Spain, Italy and Poland). We estimated the size of the emissions and calculated their social costs by using “environmental prices”. These prices vary between the EU27+UK countries, taking into account differences in income levels and population densities. The prices distinguish between emissions in rural and urban areas and take into account various stack heights (only for PM2.5). We also conducted a literature review on indoor pollution.

After publication of the report on March 31, we discovered a flaw in the data used. Since CE Delft highly values quality and accountability, we published a new version of the report (Version 1.2).
In short, Eurostat’s energy carrier categories and subcategories were added together, leading to some double counting. Therefore, while the total EU and national costs remain the same, the relative contributions of different techniques and fuels (e.g. wood stoves, gas boilers) are slightly different. The main conclusions of our research are not altered, with coal and wood remaining the main contributors to these costs.