This afternoon, the HEAL Poland team, together with 25+ health experts, health organisations and civil society representatives, met Ministry of Climate and Environment Secretary of State Bolesta, to discuss the ongoing revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD), on which negotiators reached a deal last week. Participants included HEAL partners Prof. Michał Krzyżanowski, Prof. Tadeusz Zielonka, Prof. Bolesław Samoliński, Dr Piotr Dąbrowiecki.
The air in cities can be polluted with various substances, many of them are caused by human activity. One pollutant particularly harmful to human health is nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
NO2 is a gas with a characteristic odor and colour that is produced as a result of various combustion processes. Its main source of emission is road transport using internal combustion engines (mainly diesel). Both in Poland and the entire EU, road transport is responsible for over 1/3 of total nitrogen oxide emissions (35% and 37%, respectively). The situation is even worse in large cities with heavy car traffic.
Research shows that exposure to nitrogen dioxide is associated with an increased risk of developing various diseases – especially respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Even short-term exposure to NO2 can cause negative health impacts.
The new HEAL infographic in English and Polish outlines the most important facts about nitrogen dioxide and its impact on health and highlights what actions should be taken to protect people the pollutant:
- Change the legally binding limit value for NO2, to 10 ug/m2 annual average for the maximum concentration, by 2030 (which is fully in line with the recommendation by the WHO), and reduce the possibility for exemptions to this more health protective limit
- Improve information requirements by sending out alerts on NO2 peak pollution and associated health risks, as well as regular information on health effects of NO2 and improve air quality indexes to include information on health risks and for vulnerable groups.
- Improve monitoring of NO2 concentrations by monitoring in smaller geographic locations, and at locations frequented by vulnerable groups (such as children, those suering from disease, or those facing health inequalities), and at air pollution hot spots.
- Regularly review the evidence on the health effects of NO2 and other air pollutants, as part of an independent review by the WHO.