An Taisce has said poor air quality contributes to 3,400 premature deaths in Ireland annually, with pollution from diesel cars, buses and trucks largely to blame.

The heritage body said it costs Ireland up to €6.3bn a year due to days lost in work and education, as well as the direct health costs.

An Taisce has written to Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan and Minister for Health James Reilly.

It is urging them to work to reform EU law on air pollution.

Policy Director James Nix said the figures for Europe are frightening with “420,000 premature deaths and up to €790 billion in economic costs due to poor air quality".

An Taisce claimed traffic in Ireland was the main cause of the poor air quality problem.

It said the focus needed to be put on reducing pollution from diesel cars, buses and trucks.