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
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.
Air pollutant emissions were above legal limits in eight Member States in 2011, preliminary data shows. In 2010, 12 Member States exceeded these limits, according to final official data reported under the European Union’s National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive.
Invasive alien species pose greater risks than previously thought for biodiversity, human health and economies, according to two new reports from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The cost of ignoring the warning signs - EEA publishes ‘Late Lessons from Early Warnings, volume II’Jan 23, 2013
New technologies have sometimes had very harmful effects, but in many cases the early warning signs have been suppressed or ignored. The second volume of Late Lessons from Early Warnings investigates specific cases where danger signals have gone unheeded, in some cases leading to deaths, illness and environmental destruction.
Air is a tricky subject to photograph, but this challenge has proved to be a source of inspiration for the winners of photo storycompetition ‘ImaginAIR’, organised by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The European Union appears to have met several objectives to reduce the impacts of air pollution, according to the original scientific understanding used to set the objectives. But when using the improved scientific understanding of air pollution now available, it becomes clear that emissions need to be even further reduced to protect health and the environment.
Almost a third of Europe's city dwellers are exposed to excessive concentrations of airborne particulate matter (PM), one of the most important pollutants in terms of harm to human health as it penetrates sensitive parts of the respiratory system. The EU has made progress over the past decades to reduce the air pollutants which cause acidification, but a new report published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that many parts of Europe have persistent problems with outdoor concentrations of PM and ground level ozone.
The air we breathe may not be the most photogenic subject, but depicting an odourless, colourless gas is the challenge set out by ImaginAIR, a new competition created by the European Environment Agency (EEA) which invites participants to tell a story about Europe's air in three pictures.