Road widening and other road infrastructures projects were contributing to improving air quality, health minister Chris Fearne said on Friday.

Fielding questions from the media, Mr Fearne said the government acknowledged that air quality needed to continue improving. 

"The fact that we are widening roads and building flyovers is a very important measure," he said.

"On the other hand, our efforts to put more electric cars on the road will continue resulting in significant improvements."

The Health Minister said efforts had already been made to lessen the pollution from electricity generation through the elimination of heavy fuel oil.

Mr Fearne said traffic was one of the biggest problems contributing to poor air quality.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli.

He disputed figures pointing towards an increase in asthma-related deaths.

According to separate research by the European Heart Journal, 576 people die prematurely every year from diseases brought on by airborne pollutants.

The research used new data on the health impacts of air pollution to estimate that about 800,000 people a year across the EU die early and that the average person loses two years of life.

Malta’s figures – which compare to previous estimates of between 250 and 270 early deaths for the same period – are slightly worse than the EU average. Compared to the population, Malta experiences 137 early deaths per 100,000 people, when the EU average stands at 129 per 100,000. 

Mr Fearne said the government recognised that air quality was an important factor for people’s health, and the matter was being taken seriously.

The minister also pointed to the government’s efforts at promoting the uptake of electric vehicles.