The European Union is pushing for stricter air quality guidelines to reduce the number of deaths and illnesses caused by air pollution. An article released on Health Policy Watch discusses the new rules and why they’re important.
The aim of the new rules is to cut PM2.5 and NO2 concentration limits to 10ug/m³ and 20 ug/m³, respectively. These limits are significantly stricter than the current standards, which set the limits to 25ug/m³ and 40ug/m³.
This goal is aimed to be achieved by 2030, and the EU believes it will cut premature deaths from air pollution by at least 55%. However, even if this goal isn’t reached, a decrease in air pollution will lead to a significantly healthier population with fewer air-related health issues.
The new limits still aren’t as strict as the WHO’s air quality guidelines which recommend limits of 5ug/m³ PM2.5 and 10ug/m³ NO2. However, more stringent restrictions are a good step forward, even if they can be improved upon further later.
Currently, most capital cities in the EU exceed the new rules, and significant work will need to be done to lower the pollution in these cities within the new rules. However, countries and cities have already shown this can be done, and with good planning, it’s possible for even the most polluted EU cities to meet the new rules.
Although the EU has already done a good job of reducing pollution - between 1990 and 2019, public exposure to PM2.5 fell by almost 34% in Europe - there is still work to be done. These new rules are a great step towards creating a healthier environment for everyone.