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In a letter supported by dozens of Polish health and environment groups, HEAL calls on the newly elected Polish government to accelerate action against air pollution to protect health. Environment ministers of EU member states are expected to meet on Monday 18 December to exchange on the revision of the EU’s Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD).

In the letter, the authors urge the new Polish government to adopt a firm position during negotiations, support the current proposal on the table, and accelerate action to prevent disease. In particular, health and environment organisations call on the Polish government to:

  • Prevent changes to the limit values of pollutant concentrations. The Council’s negotiating position offers the possibility for countries to submit a request to postpone the need to maintain the limit values for up to ten years. In practice, this would result in a higher burden of disease resulting from air pollution, increased consequences for vulnerable groups, and higher healthcare costs.
  • Counteract health inequalities by implementing equally ambitious provisions of the directive across all EU member states. People most at risk from the health effects of air pollution often belong to groups with lower socio-economic status. The Council’s negotiating position provides for the possibility for member states with a lower GDP than the EU average – including Poland – to delay the implementation of new standards by up to ten years. Poles are already paying a high price for air pollution, and a ten year delay in implementing regulations would be an additional burden on people’s health and wellbeing.
  • Set a date for the full alignment of EU clean air standards with WHO recommendations on air quality without delay. The position of the European Parliament sets the date for full alignment of the provisions of the AAQD with the WHO guidelines for 2035, while the Council has so far remained silent on this issue. 

An ambitious update of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive will bring health benefits to everyone, especially those most at risk of breathing polluted air (such as children, the elderly and pregnant women).

Click here to read the letter in Polish. 

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