EU cracks down on pollution as survey reveals people want tougher regulations on clean air

The European Union is set to propose tougher legal limits on toxic air pollution, according to the bloc’s top environmental official.

The recommendation includes rules that would make pharmaceutical companies pay to clean up wastewater that is polluted by their products, Euronews reported on Wednesday.

Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius told Reuters on Wednesday that three laws are being drafted to target damaging air and water pollution.

This includes a requirement for EU countries to meet new legally binding air pollution limits by 2030.

It will bring EU air quality standards closer to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations and give local authorities more power to clean up their air.

The new rules could also allow people to claim compensation if they suffer the health effects of illegal pollution.

Another of the proposed regulations could make companies – particularly in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries – responsible for the cost of cleaning up  pollution released into wastewater from their products. It is intended to prevent taxpayers from having to pay these costs in full, Sinkevicius said.

Once they are formally suggested, the new air quality regulations will need to be negotiated and approved by EU member states.

Most Europeans think health conditions like asthma and cardiovascular disease are serious problems in their country because of air pollution, according to a Eurobarometer survey published this week.

Nearly half of the people that responded think that air quality has got worse over the last ten years – despite studies showing it has actually improved. And a large majority, 67 per cent, think that air quality standards in the EU need to be strengthened.

In 2019, Bucharest came in with a PM2.5 average of 18.4 μg/m³, putting it into the ‘moderate’ pollution ratings bracket. Most of the pollution comes vehicles, construction sites as well as the use of coal in factories and their related emissions.

The World Health Organizations says its target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less has less chance to cause adverse effects in those who are exposed.

The latest figures from the European Environment Agency show that air pollution still causes more than 300,000 premature deaths a year.

Romania’s environment chief calls out wood stoves as major source of air pollution in Bucharest


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