Air pollution is a silent killer, especially the smallest dust particles which may take years and years of chronic exposure to show their deadly effects on human health. But this is just one of the three paradoxes of air quality, says Myriam Tryjefaczka, from Camfil Farr, a Swedish company manufacturing ventilation and air filtering systems.
A trilogue this Monday (9 December) will consider new roadworthiness regulations. It is imperative that a proposal to start testing lorries using their on-board controls, rather than testing vehicles at their tailpipes, must be rejected, argues Simon Birkett.
The strategy aims to extend clean air laws into new sectors - agriculture and transport - that were not covered before, targeting five main pollutants including fine-dust particles which are most harmful to human health. It is expected to cost the EU some €7.1 billion every year but the anticipated benefits in terms of reduced sickness and mortality will be fivefold, the Commission claims.
The EU has adopted strict new caps on pollutant emissions from diesel and petrol cars, limiting in particular nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) which pose the most serious health and environmental problems.
Restrictions on tobacco smoke and the Asbestos scandal have put indoor air quality under the spotlight in the recent past, resulting in tough policies to stop damage to human health. While tobacco continues to be the biggest health culprit, nowadays attention is also turning to "chemical cocktails," toxic fumes from heating and cooking, and damp and mould caused by poor ventilation.
MEPs approved free-trade accords with Colombia, Peru and six Central American nations today (11 December), giving them permanent access to the EU's 500 million consumers and offering the EU's stagnant economy new markets for its cars and luxury goods.
When the European Commission began pressing for a dramatic expansion in the use of biofuels in transport and energy several years ago, it was seen as a win-win situation: a way to help farmers, create energy security, cut greenhouse emissions and improve air quality. But even that last claim is no longer taken for granted.
Chronic pollution makes Bulgaria one of the world’s deadliest places to live because of poor air quality, despite years of efforts to improve monitoring and comply with EU standards. But Bulgaria's problems are not isolated and reflect broader concerns over air quality among EU member states.
Environment Commissioner Janez Poto?nik wants 2013 to be the “Year of Air” and is pushing for stronger air quality laws across the European Union. But with many member states failing to enforce current rules, the commissioner could face an uphill battle.
Greece's once-mighty socialist PASOK party will team up with a new centre-left group to contest European Parliament elections in May rather than run alone, after its support was decimated by the country's debt crisis.
A new coalition in Germany may revamp its EU policy towards more commitment. The country's partners will have to get a better grasp of its concerns, but the new constellation can foster further progress in Europe, write Jacques Delors, Antonio Vitorino and Yves Bertoncini.
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