Environment and health
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A clean environment is essential for human health and well-being. However, the interactions between the environment and human health are highly complex and difficult to assess. This makes the use of the precautionary principle particularly useful. The best-known health impacts are related to ambient air pollution, poor water quality and insufficient sanitation. More
- Key facts and messages
- Environment, health and quality of life — Water and air pollution have declined but not enough to achieve good ecological quality in all water bodies or to ensure good air quality in all urban areas. Widespread exposure to multiple pollutants and chemicals and concerns about long-term... more
- Europe’s freshwaters contain a number of pollutants including nutrients, metals, pesticides, pathogenic micro-organisms, industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals. These can have adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems, degrading habitats and resulting in the loss of freshwater flora and fauna.... more
- Air pollution damages human health and the environment. Considerable progress has been made in Europe to reduce emissions and exposure to different air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and lead (Pb). However, despite reductions, certain air pollutants, especially particulate matter... more
- European air pollutant concentrations still frequently exceed limit values set by the EU Air Quality Directives. Many Member States have either not complied, or will not comply by the required target dates, with legally-binding air quality limits set for the protection of human health. Examples... more
- As European emissions decrease, there is increasing recognition of the importance of inter-continental transport of air pollutants and its contribution to poor air quality in Europe. This contribution is particularly large for ozone, persistent organic pollutants, and mercury, and for particulate... more
- Despite substantial reductions in some urban air pollutants, data for the period 1997 to 2008 show that for any given year up to 40 to 60 % of urban citizens can be exposed to concentrations of either particulate matter or ozone above the EU limits. Environmental noise, mainly from transport,... more
- 11 countries exceeded the 2010 'ceilings' for the four important air pollutants regulated under the LRTAP Protocol: NOx, NMVOC, SOx and NH. These pollutants can lead to breathing problems, acid rain and eutrophication. more
- Every 10% increase in green space is associated with a reduction in diseases equivalent to an increase of five years of life expectancy. more
- Over one year a mature tree will take up about 22 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and in exchange release oxygen. Each year, 1.3 million trees are estimated to remove more than 2500 tonnes of pollutants from the air. more
- Modelling studies for urban temperatures over the next 70 years project that in urban areas where the green cover is reduced by 10 %, urban temperatures could increase by 8.2 °C above current levels. more
- In 2008, ten of 12 waterborne disease outbreaks reported in the EU were linked to the contamination of private wells. more
- Exposure to ground-level ozone concentrations above critical health levels is associated with more than 20 000 premature deaths in the EU-25 annually. more
Around 90 % of city dwellers in the European Union (EU) are exposed to one of the most damaging air pollutants at levels deemed harmful to health by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This result comes from the latest assessment of air quality in Europe, published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Unusually high temperatures this summer may be contributing to poor air quality in many European cities. Thresholds to protect health from ground-level ozone have been exceeded across Europe in recent weeks, according to preliminary data reported to the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Europeans live longer and healthier lives than in the past, partly due to successful environmental policies that have reduced the exposure to harmful environmental contaminants in air, water and food, according to a new report. However, these contaminants are still a problem, and several new health risks are emerging, for example, from new chemicals, new products and changing lifestyle patterns.
Many air pollutant emissions are below internationally agreed limits, except nitrogen oxides, according to a European Environment Agency report released today. Emissions of three air pollutants, including fine particulate matter, are only slightly above targets to be met in 2020.
Air-related legislation in the EU aims to protect human health and the environment from pollution. But this legislation is not always fully implemented. Bridging this gap is the subject of a new publication from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
On World Environment Day (5 June), the European Environment Agency's new Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx discusses the importance of the environment.
Protected areas cover more than one fifth of the land in the 39 countries working with the European Environment Agency (EEA). On International Biodiversity Day, the EEA encourages Europeans to find out more about their closest nature reserve or national park using a new interactive map.
Poor air quality can have serious impacts on our health and the environment. How is Europe’s air quality? What are the main sources of air pollutants? How do they affect our health and the environment? What does Europe do to improve air quality? The new edition of the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) Signals takes a closer look.