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Mounting concerns about public health are pushing cities to scrub their air clean

The European Commission proposes measures to protect human health that focus on a wide range of pollution sources such as cars, industry, agricultural activities. As air quality is a key determining factor for the quality of life in cities, the partnership on air quality works on proposals for better regulation, funding, knowledge in this area.

Every year, more than 400 000 people in the EU die prematurely due to the consequences of air pollution: this is more than 10 times the toll of road traffic accidents. Another 6.5 million people fall sick as air pollution causes diseases such as strokes, asthma, bronchitis. Air pollution also harms our natural environment, impacting both vegetation and wildlife: almost two-thirds of Europe’s ecosystems are threatened by the effects of air pollution.

Dr. Vincent-Henri Peuch, Director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said, “Air quality has significantly improved since the 1970s. EU-level and national regulations have regulated pollutants to reduce exposure of people to substances that can harm their health, but it is not enough. Air pollution remains the biggest environmental risk in Europe, warns the European Environment Agency, and cities, bulking millions of people, industries, and traffic, still experience levels of pollution that health experts deem harmful.”

Dr. Dorota Jarosi?ska, Program Manager for Living and Working Environments said, “Although recently observed short-term improvements in air quality will be a positive impact on general health and well-being. It is very important to note that any short-term environmental benefits as a result of COVID-19 are no substitute for planned and sustained action on air quality and climate. There is also a risk that, under the pressure of rapidly improving economic performance, there might be a temptation to relax environmental protection rules, thus increasing long-term risks.”




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