A study has revealed that 10,000 deaths from car pollution could be avoided in Britain annually if more employees worked from home.
The research, by Oxford and Bath University, showed that related health costs from car and van emissions are costing about £6 billion a year in damage.
The report concludes that more than 10,000 premature deaths a year are being caused by pollutants from cars.
The report’s authors called for radical changes to lifestyles, including reducing the dependence by individuals on their cars.
“Options you can do today include tele-shopping, tele-working, tele-conferencing or tele-socialising,” the study recommends
These include more people working from home, families doing their shopping online and socialising virtually.
The research said the greatest health costs came from cities: the average car in inner London is responsible for £7,714 costs in health damage, with costs twice that for diesel cars in the heart of the city.
Dr Christian Brand, from the University of Oxford and UK Energy Research Centre, said: “Cars and vans are responsible for 10,000 early deaths each year, and diesel vehicles are the main problem unfortunately.
“The valuation of health effects associated with diesel vehicles are at least five times greater than those associated with petrol vehicles, and around 20 times greater than battery electric vehicles.”
Chris Large from charity Global Action Plan said: “Swapping one in four car journeys in urban areas for walking or cycling could save over £1.1 billion in health damage costs per year.
“Switching 1 million cars from diesel to electric would save more than £360 million per year in health costs from local air pollution.”
London was the worst UK city for the costs to the NHS associated to pollution from cars and vans at £605 million, compared to Birmingham at about £150 million.