Vienna had the second highest level of toxic fine dust air pollution in Austria in 2008. The World Health Organisation (WHO) associates fine-dust pollution with 2,400 premature deaths, 55,00 asthma attacks and 20,000 cases of bronchitis in children in Austria each year.
Fine dust, which can be made of inorganic and organic substances such as salts, metals, soot, grease, oils, viruses, bacteria, pollens and fungi, can penetrate the lungs to cause asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular problems. The European Commission has extended the deadline for Austria to comply with EU particulate matter guidelines until 2011.
Current guidelines allow for 50 micrograms of fine-dust per cubic metre of air, to be exceeded on only 35 days a year. Fine-dust levels remained excessively high in eight Austrian cities in 2008, according to the Austrian Traffic Club (VC