• Calling on European governments to protect their populations from dangerously high air pollution

Air Quality Monitoring

Calling on European governments to protect their populations from dangerously high air pollution

Oct 04 2023

Two years after the launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) updated Air Quality Guidelines, a new pan-European campaign has been launched calling for European policymakers to protect their citizens from dangerously high levels of air pollution in the upcoming vote on the Ambient Air Quality Directive. 

Air pollution is one of the most significant health and environmental challenges facing Europe, with almost 300,000 premature deaths annually. It significantly reduces the quality of life for millions who suffer from debilitating conditions such as respiratory cardiovascular disease.

Backed by global philanthropic organisation the Clean Air Fund, Clean Air Action Now calls for governments across Europe to step-up and protect the 96% of their populations living in towns and cities who are exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution. 

The Ambient Air Quality Directive, a cornerstone of the EU’s Green Deal, aims at reducing deaths from the EU’s #1 environmental cause of premature death in Europe, while also reducing the strain on our ecosystems and biodiversity. The legislation will be voted on by European governments at a meeting of the Environment Council on 18 December 2023.

Commenting on the campaign’s launch, Jane Burston, Chief Executive Officer of Clean Air Fund, said: "The revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directive is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect European citizens from the dangers of air pollution. With 96% of Europeans living in cities and towns exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution, governments must act now to help reduce the many thousands of premature deaths caused by outdoor air pollution every year”.

Welcoming the launch of the campaign Anne Stauffer, Deputy Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said that "Air pollution is the top environmental threat to people’s health. Decision-makers have to follow the science and people’s needs by supporting an ambitious overhaul of the EU’s clean air standards. Clean air is a question of political will, not an individual or lifestyle choice.”

Dr. Anja Behrens, spokesperson for the Clean Air Working Group at the German Climate and Health Alliance ( KLUG) states: "The climate crisis is increasingly a public health crisis. While everyone understands that the burning of fossil fuels and the burning of wood fuels climate change, there is much less awareness on the significant health impacts from air pollution as a consequence of fossil fuels and wood burning. Air pollution can be deadly; achieving clean air is our collective responsibility. The health sector urges the German government to support a swift full alignment of clean air standards with WHO recommendations.”

Welcoming the launch of the campaign, Anne Lassman-Trappier, Air quality expert at France Nature Environnement said that “According to Santé Publique France, aligning European standards with WHO values would prevent 80% of air pollution-related deaths in France. What's more, taking action would cost much less than suffering the effects of air pollution. There should be no hesitation in adopting WHO recommendations.”

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IET 33.6 Nov/Dec 2023

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