by | January 16, 2013 | Statements

Attitudes of Europeans Towards Air Quality

Air quality is a major concern for European citizens and is an area in which the EU has been particularly active over the last 30 years. As part of continuing efforts to improve air quality and air pollution, the European Commission is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of EU air policy, with a view to revising the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution and associated legislation in 2013.

The EU’s key objective in relation to air quality is “to achieve levels of air quality that do not result in unacceptable impacts on, and risks to, human health and the environment.”

In addition, air pollution is one of the key issues included as part of the
European Commission’s proposal for a new Environment Action Programme (EAP) to 2020, “Living well, within the limits of our planet”.

The questions in this Flash Eurobarometer are designed to support
this work by providing greater insight into the views of the European public on matters of air quality and air pollution.

Specifically the survey was designed to examine:

  1. the level of knowledge about air quality problems;
  2. the perceived seriousness of air quality problems and perceived changes in the quality of air over the past ten years;
  3. the perceived impact of various sectors and activities on air quality;
  4. the main threats to air quality;
  5. environmentally friendly energy and transport options;
  6. individual and other actions to reduce air quality problems;
  7. recommended measures that the EU should take;
  8. awareness of the review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution;
  9. awareness of and opinions about the current EU legislation related to air quality;
  10. the impact of energy production and use on air quality; and,
  11. views on shale gas extraction.

The findings of this survey have been analysed firstly at EU level and secondly by country. Additional analysis has been conducted using respondents’ opinions on:

  • the level of information about air quality problems;
  • the seriousness of air-related problems;
  • perceptions of changes in air quality; and,
  • their personal experience of respiratory problems.

Respondents were asked how serious they considered a range of air quality related problems to be in their country. These problems include respiratory diseases and illnesses, acidification and eutrophication.

  • The majority think respiratory diseases are a serious problem –
    Most respondents (87%) think that respiratory diseases are a serious problem in their country.
  • Almost all Europeans think cardiovascular diseases are a serious problem
    More than nine in ten Europeans consider cardiovascular diseases to be a serious problem in their country (92%).
  • 87% of Europeans think asthma and allergy are a serious problem
  • More than seven out of ten Europeans think acidification is a serious problem


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