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Health groups across Europe call for the European Parliament and member states to swiftly adopt the agreement reached in trilogue on updating EU’s clean air standards (revised Ambient Air Quality Directive).  

The deal agreed last night includes updates on maximum levels for the major air pollutants, strengthened monitoring requirements, better information to people including vulnerable groups. The draft law also introduces new access to justice and compensation rules.

The provisional agreement now must be adopted by the European Parliament and Council, before entering into force (with a two-year transposition timeline).

Air pollution weights heavy on the health of people in the EU and the economy; 97% of the urban population breathes air which is considered unhealthy, resulting in hundreds of thousands of premature deaths and hundreds of billions of euros in health costs each year. Air pollution affects everyone and those most vulnerable disproportionally, such as those already ill, children, elderly, pregnant women, and those facing health inequalities.

European health groups have been united in their call to member states to help ensure the unacceptable suffering from air pollution can be put to an end with science and health-based legally binding limit values.

HEAL Deputy Director Anne Stauffer thanks decision-makers who worked to get a deal that protects health:  

Last night’s Ambient Air Quality Directive deal is a major step forward towards clean air in Europe. While regrettably the compromise falls short on fully updating with the scientific recommendations, the package has a huge potential to lessen people’s suffering, prevent disease and achieve economic savings. We urge all MEPs and member states to adopt this revision ahead of the EU elections, as this is an updated law with a clear added value for people.

Zorana Jovanovic Andersen, Chair of the Environment and Health Committee, European Respiratory Society: Scientifically it is beyond doubt that air pollution harms health across Europe. Now is the time for politicians, especially from national governments, to ensure we have the legal frame to follow through with science-based EU clean air standards to protect people’s health.

 Dr Christiaan Keijzer, President of the Standing Committee of European Doctors: The EU air quality standards need to be urgently updated. Doctors across Europe agree that we need better air quality, and public authorities and national governments need to act, to help lessen the disease burden.

Susanna Palkonen, Director European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations: The well-being of people, especially if they live with chronic respiratory disease, is severely impacted by air pollution. It leads to premature deaths, hospitalisations and absence from work and school. We look to European decision-makers to prioritise health with the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directive!

Milka Sokolovic, Director General, European Public Health Alliance: Having clean air through an ambitious Ambient Air Quality Directive is a crucial component for tackling health inequities across Europe – a piece of legislation that ensures that everyone in Europe, especially those in vulnerable and marginalised communities, breath clean air.

Xavier Brenez, CEO of the Mutualités Libres: “Clean air will save member states a great deal of money on healthcare from reduced general practitioner and emergency visits. For Belgium reaching the WHO standards for particle pollution would save € 43 million in healthcare cost annually from saved GP visits.

Hanna Boogaard, Co-chair International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Europe: “Air pollution is a major public health risk factor. We need governments, local authorities and other bodies to do their best to address it, especially as science shows that even low levels of air pollution affect health.

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