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EFA: Allergy and asthma patients need clean air in Europe

Leading European experts and policy-makers from the allergy, asthma, health and environmental fields including HEAL, recently came together to discuss the ongoing EU efforts to review clean air legislation in Europe.

On 1 July, the European Parliament (EP) Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma met to discuss how air quality affects EU citizens’ health and how allergy and asthma – which are among the top chronic diseases in Europe – are influenced and exacerbated by poor air quality. The event was organised by HEAL member the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients Association (EFA) and hosted by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen and MEP Nessa Childers. The meeting was timed to take place ahead of the EP Environment Committee vote on the NEC.

HEAL’s Deputy Director Anne Stauffer spoke at the event highlighting the interlinkage between climate change, air pollution and health, and how the NEC is a key instrument to create win-wins for the climate and air quality.

Anne underlined the recent Lancet findings that declare ‘climate change a medical emergency’. Health effects provoked by climate change are already felt today in Europe, for example when during heatwaves air pollution levels go up, or when allergy seasons are prolonged and the number of symptoms and allergic reactions increases because of the modification of the allergic potential of plants by air pollution. HEAL pointed out that for the NEC, 2025 reductions should be binding for all pollutants and ammonia, methane and mercury should also be addressed. 2030 is a long timeframe and we want a clear commitment to tackle air pollution.

MEP Sirpa Pietikainen, Chair of the EP Interest Group emphasised the need to link health costs and air quality and communicate this to politicians. Inaction today will cost the European population more in the future, for example, the severity of the clinical manifestations of allergy in young children is increasing. Latest research has confirmed that living near polluted roads is responsible for 15-30 percent of all new asthma cases in children and COPD for people aged 65 or more and allergy is a major disease in Europe touching 30 percent of the population.

Christine Rolland from EFA highlighted that more than 50 percent of Europeans will suffer from at least one type of allergy by 2025 and therefore the EU should prevent asthma and allergy trends and symptoms getting worse through responsible actions to tackle health determinants – these should include reducing indoor and outdoor pollution, ensuring real-time pollen monitoring and information in Europe, and limiting chemicals exposure and tobacco use and exposure.

More information on the event available on EFA’s website here

Pictures of the event can be found here.

The EP Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma is an informal group of Members of the European Parliament committed to policy actions to address unmet needs of allergy and asthma at EU level. It serves as a forum to share expertise and align interests engaging with relevant EU policy-makers and stakeholders on allergy and asthma health. The group is chaired by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen and the Secretariat of the group is jointly coordinated by us and the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI). More and regular information on the Interest Group is available in a dedicated section in our website.

Photos courtesy of EFA

Originally posted on 13 July 2015

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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