Need for stronger EU action on air pollution

There are significant links between exposure to PM2.5 and respiratory infections and asthma in young children. Photo: flickr.com Stuart´Dootson cc by-nc-nd

World Health Organization calls for tightening of Eurpean Union air quality standards.

A new scientific review on air pollution conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the EU needs to step up efforts to improve air quality, according to the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

WHO’s “Review of evidence on health aspects of air pollution” (REVIHAAP) project provides new and more extensive evidence of harm to health in adults and children, including effects on prenatal development. The scientists also say that the effects of very hot periods during the summer – associated with climate change in Europe – will make the impact of air pollution worse. The findings prompted the scientists to recommend a review of existing WHO guidelines. They also say that the “newfound health effects call for stronger EU air policies”, and that the EU air quality standards should be revised.

“Today’s results are a wake-up call for decision-makers in Europe to take the air pollution problem more seriously,” says Anne Stauffer, HEAL Deputy Director. “The new findings show effects at lower concentration levels and associations with new conditions, such as diabetes, adverse birth outcomes and cognitive development. They provide evidence-based science that EU policies are inadequate.”

The assessment, carried out by 60 leading international scientists in the field, forms part of the discussions on future EU measures in the EU Year of Air 2013. This autumn will see the launch of proposals on how to improve air quality all over Europe. HEAL calls on the EU Commission, but especially EU member states to increase their political commitment to tackling air pollution, which causes more premature deaths in Europe than road accidents.

Source: HEAL press release, 3 July 2013 The REVIHAAP Technical report “Review of evidence on health aspects of air pollution”  

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