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EU deal on improved air quality fails to align with WHO standards

(EurActiv, 21 Feb 2024) The provisional agreement on new rules for air quality across the EU is hailed as a step forward despite not aligning with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.

EU institutions came to an agreement on the evening of Tuesday (20 February) on the revised rules for ambient air quality as part of the Zero Pollution Action Plan, aiming for zero pollution in air, water and soil by 2050.

The deal was praised by the EU Parliament’s key negotiator Javí Lopez, who called it “a major step in our ongoing efforts to ensure a cleaner and healthier future for all Europeans”.

Similarly, Alain Maron, minister of the government of the Brussels-Capital Region with responsibility for climate and environment, called the agreement “crucial” and said they will “drastically improve the quality of the air we breathe and help us effectively tackle air pollution, thus reducing premature deaths and health related risks.”

At the core of the agreement are lower limits for a range of pollutants, including the ones causing the most harm to human health, fine particulate matter (PM2,5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

It also includes more air quality sampling points in European cities, a demand for the European Commission to review the rules again by 2030, and the opportunity for citizens to seek compensation if their health is damaged due to the violation of the new rules.

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EurActiv, 21 Feb 2024: EU deal on improved air quality fails to align with WHO standards