Stocksak: EU to enforce tougher laws against deadly air pollution

© Stocksak. FILEPHOTO: A general view of the ThyssenKrupp Europe plant in Duisburg. January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler/File Photo

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Stocksak), Wednesday, the EU’s top environment official stated that the EU will propose stricter legal limits for health-damaging dirt air and rules to make pharmaceutical firms pay to clean up wastewater contaminated by their products.

“Air pollution remains the greatest environmental threat to our health. The most affected are children, elderly and people with certain medical conditions,” Virginijus Sinkevicius (EU Environment Commissioner) said.

Three laws will be proposed by the European Commission to combat water and air pollution and health- and environment-damaging air. Sinkevicius stated to Stocksak that among them is the requirement that EU countries meet new legally-binding EU pollution limits by 2030. This will be closer than the stricter World Health Organization guidelines.

The WHO tightened its air quality guidelines in 2013 to encourage countries to adopt clean energy and reduce deaths from dirty air.

Every year, 300,000 premature deaths are caused by air pollution in Europe. Sinkevicius stated that tougher EU regulations could reduce these deaths by 70% in the next ten year.

Chronic exposure to air pollutants like particulate matter in industry and nitrogen dioxide from traffic can lead lung disease, diabetes, and cancer.

He declined to confirm that the new EU limits were correct. These will be published Wednesday. Once the EU countries have proposed them, the European Parliament has to negotiate and approve them.

While Europe’s air quality is better than it was ten years ago, many countries still exceed the EU standards. In cases brought by the European Commission, the European Court of Justice found France, Italy, Poland, and Romania guilty of illegally polluting the air.

Sinkevicius claimed that the new EU rules will also allow citizens to seek compensation if their health is affected by illegal air pollution.

Another proposal would place some responsibility on companies for cleaning up the pollutants their products produce in wastewater throughout the EU. This would be targeted at the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors.

Sinkevicius stated, “That way, the taxpayers do not have to pay these costs in full.”

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