A new prescription from medical professionals across Europe to tackle air pollution

With increasing concern about rising levels of air pollution, EPHA today rolls out a new campaign to support healthcare professionals to speak out about the public health emergency caused by road transport pollution in Europe.

Medics for Clean Air is a new coalition of doctors, nurses, medical students and other health professionals calling for urgent and sustainable action to tackle air pollution. Every day in their patient waiting rooms and hospital wards, they see at first hand the damage caused by long-term exposure to air pollution, such as respiratory conditions, heart disease, stroke or cancer. Health professionals are on the frontline against the harmful effects of the internal combustion engine (diesel, gasoline, and natural gas vehicles) on the air we breathe and on our environment.

The campaign aims to connect those in the medical community across Europe who want to work together to improve the lives of their patients and their local communities, so that everyone can live in a healthy and safe environment.

Why is this campaign being launched now?

The coronavirus pandemic has put healthcare to the test worldwide. The roots of the health crisis have been linked to the destruction of biodiversity, the climate emergency and particularly to air pollution.

Reducing air pollution today will not only help tackle the climate crisis but will also improve everyone’s health. Many evidence-informed studies have indicated the damaging effects of the internal combustion engine on air quality, and thus on human health, as well as in hastening climate change.

What does the campaign want to achieve?

The Medics for Clean Air manifesto calls for:

  1. decision-makers to take note of the latest scientific evidence on the health damage of air pollution, as a basis for any future clean transport policy;
  2. the European Union and national governments to end the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2028, while progressively phasing out existing polluting vehicles from urban areas;
  3. a shift from car-based cities to walking, cycling and public transport, wherever possible.

The measures introduced during the COVID19 lockdown, although extreme, showed the immediate benefits of reducing the number of cars on our streets, dramatically improving the air we breathe – many cities are now introducing measures to support more sustainable forms of urban transport, and there is surging support from the public for these changes to become more permanent – it is hoped that adding the voice of medical professionals to the debate will strengthen the calls for change.

What happens next?

As of today, the Manifesto is open for endorsement by members of the medical community and in the upcoming days, weeks and months we will reach out to them to gather more  support. The more medics that join the cause, the louder their voice will be heard and more difficult to ignore. EPHA will do its utmost to galvanise the public health community about this urgent health emergency to bring the voice of healthcare professionals to the decision makers table!

How can you support Medics for Clean Air?

Please share the campaign video and the links to the website, and encourage doctors, nurses, medical students or other healthcare professionals you are in contact with to get involved to join together to tackle air pollution, improve everyone’s health and heal our planet.

For more information, contact

Matteo Barisione

Policy Officer, Medics for Clean Air

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