World Europe does not sufficiently protect its citizens from air pollution

19:05  25 november  2020
19:05  25 november  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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EU action to protect human health from air pollution has not delivered its expected impact, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. They add that particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ground level ozone are the air pollutants responsible for most of the early deaths and

Air pollution causes great harm to European citizens ’ health. Each year, about 400 000 people die prematurely due to excessive air pollutants such as Nevertheless, bad air is still common today in most of the EU Member States and in numerous European cities. We found that European citizens

Seules l'Irlande, l'Islande, la Finlande et l'Estonie enregistrent des niveaux de particules fines inférieurs à de ce que recommandait l’OMS en 2018. | Guillaume Périgois via Unsplash © Provided by Slate Only Ireland, Iceland, Finland and Estonia have levels of fine particles below what recommended the WHO in 2018. | Guillaume Périgois via Unsplash

According to new figures published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) , European governments are not sufficiently protecting their populations from air pollution. In particular: the use of certain agricultural pollutants, the heating of individuals, and the circulation of polluting vehicles in proportions much higher than those recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and European legislation. Only Ireland, Iceland, Finland and Estonia have levels of fine particles lower than what the WHO recommended in 2018.

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The UK government is “flouting” its duty to protect the lives and health of its citizens from illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution , according to the UN’s special “UK regulations on fracking are complex, split between several regulators and do not appear to be sufficiently stringent,” he said.

'Effects of air pollution on European ecosystems' assesses the proportion of European ecosystems exposed to nitrogen and sulphur-containing Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director said: "Although air pollution does not cause as much harm as it once did , we are still struggling to protect sensitive

In that year, pollution caused the premature death of 417,000 people in Europe . According to Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the EEA, “these figures prove that investing in better air quality is also an investment in better health and better productivity of Europeans”. However, the report notes areas for improvement: in 2018, 60,000 fewer people than in 2009 died prematurely due to pollution caused by fine particles.

Some progress has also been observed thanks to the lockdowns this year. According to the EEA, a 60% reduction in air pollution was noticed in the spring. However, it will be necessary to wait for the publication of further research before establishing the real impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the environment.

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Air pollution via small particulate matter (PM) from diesel fumes and other sources is of growing concern in urban areas, and contributes to poor air quality. In European urban areas, PM pollution often exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) safe levels for human wellbeing. In response to this

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Recent studies have shown a correlation between high air pollution and increased damage from Covid-19. This reminds us of the need for urgent action to reduce air pollution.

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Margherita Tolotto, Policy Officer at the European Environment Bureau, wonders: “How much more awareness do governments need before taking action against air pollution? The wait weighs on our health and the environment. Government leaders know what needs to be done to improve air quality: building cleaner industrial energy and production, more environmentally friendly transport, and sustainable agriculture. ”

According to the EEA, governments have failed to meet environmental targets set by the European Union. In fact, each Member State should have submitted a plan in 2018 to reduce air pollution. To date, the Italian plan is still a draft, while Greece, Luxembourg and Romania have not submitted any. Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment of the European Union, says progress has been made. However, he calls on member states to act more and promises to include an action plan in the Green Deal for Europe.

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