A new MIT study, which appears in the journal Environment Science and Technology, says that more people in UK die from air pollution than road accidents.

Nearly 3,000 people died in road accidents in the year 2005 whereas about 3,300 of pre-mature cases of death were reported due to emissions from automobiles.

An additional 6,000 deaths occur due to emissions that originate from other parts of Europe. Other European nations record a death toll of 3,100 per year due to the emission that originates from the UK.

“We wanted to know if the responsibility to maintain air quality was matched by an ability to act or do something about it,” says Barrett, the Charles Stark Draper Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. “The results of the study indicate there is an asymmetry there.”

According to BBC, the study’s findings are in line with an earlier report by the government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants which had found that the air pollution in 2008 was responsible for about 29,000 deaths in UK.

For the study, the team divided the country’s emissions into sectors – power generation, road transport, commercial, residential and agricultural sources, and other transports, such as shipping and aviation. The team then used weather forecasting models followed by another simulation on a chemistry transport model to see how different emissions reacted.

They calculated which locations were most severely affected by emission by feeding the emission data into population density maps, finding that emission in these regions mostly composed of particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter.

The UK is currently facing the threat of prosecution by European Union for serial violators of air-quality standards, reports BBC.

"We estimate the premature deaths are costing the UK at least £6 billion a year," says Steven Barrett, "and perhaps as much as £60 billion."