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HEAL has submitted its response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the revision of air quality rules, open until 16 December 2021. Every individual and organisation can have their say in this important topic for health protection. HEAL’s message is very clear: EU air quality standards have to be fully aligned with the science-based guidelines the World Health Organization (WHO) has just updated.

Air pollution is the top environmental threat to health in the European region and globally, with 400,000 early deaths in the European region alone each year. Every single person is vulnerable to the adverse health impacts of pollutants in the air, and everyone will benefit from a determined, evidence-based air pollution legislation that prevents disease and promotes health. 

Air pollution is largely preventable and EU air quality standards – especially legally binding limit values – have proven to be instrumental in cleaning up the air. The 2008 EU Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQDs) are the cornerstone of the EU’s clean air policies, setting standards for air quality to protect people’s health. They are a key piece of legislation for disease prevention from environmental threats and are currently being revised, with the launch of a legislative proposal scheduled for the third quarter of 2022.

As the scientific evidence regarding air pollution’s health impacts, even at low levels, grows every day, this year the EU is presented with a once in a generation opportunity to address the greatest environmental health threat.

To save lives and prevent acute and chronic diseases, it is now that prevention policies have to reflect the latest available science. HEAL invites on all organisations and individuals involved in public health to contribute to the public consultation by 16 December. It is a unique opportunity to have the health sector voice heard in this key process that will impact the health of millions in the years to decades to come.