PRESS RELEASE: European Environment Agency: Member States ignore air pollutants from heating and agriculture

PRESS RELEASE, 16th February 2022 – Brussels
European Environment Agency: Member States ignore air pollutants from heating and agriculture
Today, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a report on air quality management in Europe. The EEA finds that violations of EU air quality limits are mainly in northern and western Europe due to nitrogen dioxide, which is mainly caused by road traffic. In southern and eastern Europe, heating of private homes and apartments is the main cause of poor air quality, mainly due to exceedances of particulate matter (PM10) limits.
For its report, the EEA examined 944 air quality plans submitted to it between 2014 and 2020. EU member states are required to issue air quality plans for areas where EU air quality limit values have been breached. Among the measures taken by member states to reduce pollution, two-thirds focused on reducing stock oxides from the transport sector, only 12 percent on heating and as little as 4 percent on agriculture. Seventy-six percent of limit violations occur in cities and suburbs. Therefore, according to the EEA, cities play a key role in managing air quality.
Green health expert in the European Parliament Jutta Paulus comments:
„The European Commission must incorporate the World Health Organization’s recommendations on air quality into the EU Air Quality Directive. This was demanded by the European Parliament already in March 2021.
Shockingly, the results of the European Environment Agency show that far too little is being done on the part of the member states to combat the exceeding of current limit values, especially in heating and agriculture. Particulate matter and nitrogen oxides are dangerous for the environment and health. There is growing scientific evidence that air pollution could exacerbate the spread and severity of Covid19 and other infectious diseases. The EU Commission must therefore take action and enforce EU law in the Member States to protect citizens from air pollutants that are harmful to health!
The phasing out of the combustion engine and the switch to renewable energies are necessary to protect the health of Europeans. Air pollution caused by industrial livestock farming must no longer be neglected. I will work to ensure that the limits for ammonia and methane are effectively lowered in the recast of the Industrial Emissions Directive and extended to all relevant industries.”
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