23 March 2023
ERS has joined forces with other health-focused organisations by co-signing a letter to the Members of the European Parliament – Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety (ENVI). The letter demands revisions of the European Union (EU) Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD) to comply with scientific standards.
The letter highlights that air pollution remains the top environmental risk to health in Europe; that everyone is vulnerable to its impacts; and that some are more at risk than others. A person’s level of vulnerability is also outside their control, as it evolves with age, health condition and socio-economic status, as well as where they live, study, or work.
The revision of the EU’s clean air standards is a unique and not-to-be-missed opportunity to prevent premature death and minimise the health burden from chronic disease, including respiratory diseases such as COPD and asthma.
The ENVI committee is currently considering the proposal to revise the AAQD, which is a cornerstone for the protection of people’s health and the environment from air pollution.
ERS and other organisations that represent the European health sector urge that ENVI acts on the following recommendations:
- Fully align the EU’s air quality standards with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and the latest science by 2030.
- Support legally binding limit values to recognise and address health inequalities. Clear limit values are the most protective and effective type of standards to protect everyone.
- Include a comprehensive definition of vulnerable and susceptible groups in accordance with the WHO: vulnerability factors to the health impacts of air pollution. Factors are diverse and can be cumulative.
- Strengthen public information on air quality as a public health measure that prevents and protects. Air quality information should be accessible and transparent.
- Ensure the most health-protective enabling framework by closing the risk of compliance delays and exemptions with limit values.
- Increase the density and representativity of monitoring stations. The criteria for the location of sampling points should include representation of social inequalities.
- Support an independent review of the evidence regularly carried out by the WHO, as the core of the review mechanism foreseen.