How to save hundreds of thousands of lives in Europe through Ambient Air Quality Directives

The European Union’s revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQDs) presents an opportunity to drastically reduce the health, wellbeing and social effects of air pollution in Europe through greater ambition, more consideration of marginalised populations, and more focus on the health effects of poor air quality. We have an opportunity in Europe to clean the air and reap the benefits of clean air.

Air pollution puts a high health, social and economic cost on Europe every year. The systems that contribute to air pollution also cross over with those related to climate change. Cleaning our systems can have benefits to air quality, carbon emissions, but also infrastructure, health systems and economy. Reductions in air pollution will improve Europe’s initiatives to improve mental health and cancer burden. The costs far outweigh the benefit, and there is no reason to not push for the highest ambition: to fully align with the World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines from 2021.

EPHA is advocating for the Ambient Air Quality Directives revision to:

  • Fully align with the World Health Organization guidelines (2021) everywhere in the EU by 2030 at the latest.
  • Implement legally binding limit values for air pollutants.
  • Ensure a comprehensive, dense network of air pollution monitoring stations.
  • Create legislation with priority to avert largely preventable health impacts.
  • Establish financial and technical support for air pollution prevention in the European region (including in Western Balkans, Turkey and Eastern Europe, include EU Candidate countries such as Ukraine and Moldova).

The revision of the AAQDs is a unique, unmissable opportunity to not only clean the air, but to reform our systems, create stronger health systems and promote equity. We want these issues to be treated with priority and urgency to protect the health of all Europeans.

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