EU paves way for reduction of air pollution in cities
EU nations approve new rules that will cut air particle pollution in cities.15 April 2008
BRUSSELS - European Union governments approved rules on Monday designed to cut air particle pollution in cities.
EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said the agreement will help tackle what EU and United Nations health agencies have called a growing threat to the health of Europeans living in urban areas.
Dimas said the rules will begin to fight "a major cause of environmental and health problems".
At the heart of the strategy lies reducing the use of all major pollutants, focusing on airborne particles emitted directly into the air.
Experts say they are the most dangerous to health and are found in diesel car exhausts, ground level ozone and everyday smog that hangs over most of Europe's top cities.
The EU-wide rules commit the 27 member nations to reduce air pollution in cities by 20 percent by 2020, based on the levels of emissions recorded in 2010.
The European Commission and U.N. agencies have warned that air quality in Europe is leading to some 370,000 premature deaths every year.
They say exposure to a cocktail mix of toxins from car exhausts, industrial plants and other emitters can cause respiratory problems such as reduced lung function, asthma and chronic bronchitis.
The World Health Organisation has said that the EU can save up to EUR 161 billion a year in health costs by reducing air-pollution deaths.
The regulations will replace other related EU pollution laws under a single law dubbed the "Ambient Air Quality Directive."
The plans will leave it up to EU nations to introduce new standards on car emissions, setting a cap on concentrations of smog in cities to meet the EU targets. If they fail to meet the standards, they could face fines from the EU.
[AP / Expatica]