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Health impacts of air pollution breakfast meeting

HEAL co-organised a breakfast briefing in the European Parliament on the health impacts of cross-border air pollution and the need for efficient regulation.

HEAL together with Transport and Environment (T&E), the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), and Clean Air brought together policy experts on air quality to discuss the problem of transboundary air pollution in Europe and the economic costs to society. The event was hosted by MEP Seb Dance (right).

Presentations focused on the science on health effects of air pollution, the current situation in the EU, the benefits to the health of European citizens by reducing air pollution and what can EU policy makers do to reduce the health impacts and costs of air pollution.

WHO Europe’s Roberto Bertollini highlighted the fact that air pollution is a leading cause of death and disease and we are constantly discovering new evidence about the negative impacts of air pollution on our bodies. He focused also on improvements that could be made in the EU to improve air quality, including the implementation of the EU Clean Air Package as well as additional technical measures that could further reduce the loss of life expectancy.

The EU Commission presented how to address transboundary air pollution through various EU policies and mechanisms and the situation of today’s air quality in Europe. To reach compliance with existing air quality standards, there should be a full implementation of existing EU and national air quality policies, including the NEC Directive and enhance support to rebuild national and local air quality management capabilities. In terms of economic costs, the Commission added that there is no evidence to date that policies to clean up air have reduced economic growth.

HEAL’s Anne Stauffer (left) welcomed on behalf of the many health and environmental organisations in Europe that negotiations on NEC would continue and that there would be no delay. In the next months, MEPs have a unique opportunity to set the EU on track for better air quality. Anne urged MEPs to raise the ambition level of the draft NEC law; include all relevant pollutants and sources in pollution reduction efforts and ensure coherence to other EU air policies.

At the meeting, info graphics on cross-border pollution and the impact of particulate matter (PM2.5) on health and the economy were launched by EEB (see photo above)

Useful resources

- NGO position paper on NEC
- Joint air pollution factsheets
- HEAL’s work on air quality

Originally posted on 12 February 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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