The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is recruiting a new Country Engagement Coordinator (Climate and…
Air pollution is the number one environmental threat to health, in the EU and globally. HEAL works for good air quality indoors and outside that does not harm health, and to protect those that are particularly vulnerable. Our vision is clean air for all, across the European continent, and reaching WHO’s air quality guidelines by 2030.
Protect our health: Clean air now!
The revision of the EU’s clean air standards is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for the EU to become a clean air champion in the region and internationally, which can lead to significant improvement in people’s health and reduced rates of cancer, heart and lung disease among others. Strengthened clean air efforts will also support climate mitigation.
The EU’s legally binding limits for air pollutants should be based on science, and be at least as strict as the World Health Organization’s regularly updated guidelines. But the current standards from 2008 are based on an outdated political compromise, while the evidence-base on health harm has greatly increased in the last decade.
We call on the European Union to urgently, finally and fully align EU air quality standards with the latest available science to protect our health.
Latest WHO Air Quality Guidelines (2021)
In September 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) published much awaited new evidence-based Global Air Quality guidelines, the first update since 2005. After a systematic review of the accumulated evidence, the WHO recommends lower values for several pollutants, most notably for particulate matter PM2.5, and for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
HEAL’s position paper on Clean Air for Health Transition in the EU, 2021-2030
Engaging EU health ministers
Given that air pollution is one of the key risk factors for chronic disease, the support of health ministers and ministries for strong EU clean air standards is key
With an open letter to EU-27 national ministers of health, HEAL invited the leading health bodies to be more involved in clean air efforts and to express their support for WHO aligned air quality standards. The letter was accompanied by a Q&A on air pollution and the benefits of clean air policies. The letter as well as QA are available in multiple languages:
|English: letter & Q/A||Bulgarian: Q/A|
|Dutch: Q/A||Italian: letter & Q/A|
|Spanish: letter & Q/A||Portuguese: letter & Q/A|
|Polish: letter & Q/A||Slovenian: letter & Q/A|
|Czech: Q/A||Swedish: Q/A|
Activities are in the pipeline for The Netherlands, Germany, Czechia and Sweden.
Clean Air petition
Our Clean Air petition calls for full alignment with science-based air quality standards. Over 70,000 Europeans have already signed our appeal.
The petition is running all year and is available in a variety of languages:
Q&A on health and air quality standards in the European Union
This primer explains why air pollution is a health concern, the main consequences of poor air quality, and the current legislative framework, for anyone interested in the topic, and looking to communicate with policy-makers or the general public.
Newsletter: science for healthy air quality
Air pollution can cause a variety of health effects. It impacts people’s health in the short term (cough, shortness of breath, asthma attacks) and in the long term (chronic asthma and other lung diseases, heart diseases and cancers). It can even lead to early death.
There is no scientific doubt that air pollutants such as particulate matter PM2.5 or nitrogen dioxideNO2 harm our health and new studies are emerging every month further proving this link. Simultaneously, researchers are increasingly looking at the health benefits of particular air pollution solutions. Our Science for Healthy Air Quality newsletter keeps you up to date on the latest science.
Subscribe here or have a look at past issues below:
Read this next to find out more about HEAL’s work on air quality:
HEAL reports, briefings and infographics:
- Infographic on walking and cycling
- Infographic: why we need health-based clean air standards
- Our healthy city of tomorrow – infographics and other materials in 6 languages
- Our healthy city of tomorrow – video
HEAL’s press statements, letters, position papers and opinion pieces:
- HEAL position paper on Clean Air for Health Transition in the EU, 2021-2030
- HEAL’s reaction to the European Parliament’s vote on the López report on the implementation of the Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQD)
- HEAL reaction to EU zero pollution action plan
- HEAL response to EU consultation on zero pollution
- HEAL feedback on Air quality – revision of EU rules
- Without prioritising walking and cycling, EU mobility strategy is a lost opportunity
- Ditch fossil fuelled transport to guarantee healthy air, study confirms