The EU targets deadly air pollution, pushes for cleaner water
A study in May 2022 suggested that pollution of all types kills 9 million people in a single year. This fact unambiguously shows how important it is to address the issues of water and air pollution. As a response to this bitter fact, the European Commission on Wednesday suggested stricter legal limitations on air pollution that is harmful to human health. The commission also set rules requiring pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries to pay to clean up wastewater polluted by their goods.
Only clear air and clean water support healthy brain and body function, growth, and development. Our health and the environment can be negatively impacted by air pollutants such fine particulate matter, ground-level ozone, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and greenhouse gases.
The executive branch of the European Union proposed three laws to combat water and air pollution that harm human health and the environment. One of them is that, by 2030, EU nations must adhere to new, legally binding air pollution limits that are more in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.
In an effort to encourage nations to adopt clean energy and reduce deaths from breathing in polluted air, the WHO tightened its air quality guidelines last year, introducing new guidelines to recommend air quality levels for 6 pollutants, where evidence has advanced the most on health effects from exposure.
Virginijus Sinkevicius, the EU environment commissioner, was quoted by Reuters as saying that air pollution is still the largest environmental threat to our health. According to Sinkevicius, the impacts are worse for the most vulnerable – children, the elderly, and people with certain medical conditions.
Each year, air pollution causes 300,000 premature deaths in Europe. According to Sinkevicius, stricter EU regulations might reduce such deaths by 70% over the next ten years.
Diabetes, lung disease, and cancer can all be brought on by long-term exposure to air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide from traffic and particulate matter from industries. The data that “nearly 300,000 lung cancer deaths worldwide were attributed to PM2·5 exposure in 2019 alone” clearly shows how fatal air pollution is.
The proposal will set standards for air quality for 2030, such as a more than 50% decrease in fine particulate matter, with a target of zero pollution by 2050. The plans must be negotiated and approved by EU member states and the European Parliament.
Although the air quality in Europe has improved over the past ten years, many nations continue to breach the current EU limitations. France, Poland, Italy, and Romania are just a few of the nations that the European Court of Justice has ruled are guilty of illegal air pollution.
While each EU country will separately determine the execution of air quality regulations and the location of any penalties, the new EU regulations would also guarantee that citizens can file claims for compensation, including through class-action lawsuits, if their health was damaged as a result of illegal air pollution.
Another proposal would hold companies liable for a portion of the cost of removing pollutants that their products discharge into EU wastewater; this plan would specifically target the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.
The EU proposal aims to make the wastewater industry energy neutral by 2040, ensuring that any energy needed is offset by the sector’s output of, for instance, biogas.
Each year, North America and Europe discharge around 67 billion cubic meters of wastewater, or 231 cubic meters per capita in the U.S. As of June 2022, contaminated water is the second-biggest cause of premature deaths caused by pollution – at about 1.4 million fatalities annually -followed by lead with 900,000 casualties and workplace chemical exposure with 870,000 deaths.
To improve the health of rivers, lakes, and wetlands, it will also try to expand the list of controlled pollutants in ground or surface water and lower harmful or persistent chemical limits.