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Environment and health

Safeguarding citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health is a priority at EU level

Environmental quality across Europe has been steadily improving over recent decades. Nonetheless, environmental health hazards continue to affect European citizens. Air pollution and noise cause diseases and shorten lives. Heatwaves across Europe in recent years have resulted in thousands of fatalities, and cold spells bring on poor health and excess deaths. The burden of environmental disease is unequally distributed across European society.

The NOISE Observation & Information Service for Europe

Noise pollution is a major environmental concern in Europe. Explore NOISE maps to see environmental noise from roads, railways, airports, industry and in cities where you live.


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See also noise fact sheets

Environmental policies must be better integrated across all government work if Europe is to stay on target toward a sustainable, carbon-neutral future. This will be crucial amid the profound changes which are expected to happen as a result of an ageing European population, a widespread technological change, and the competing allocations of public budgets. Tackling these complex challenges with sustainability in mind will require clear, bold, long-term and future-proof policies, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report published today.

The quality of Europe’s bathing water remains high, according to this year’s European bathing water quality assessment published today. Just under 85 % of swimming sites across Europe monitored in 2019 met the European Union’s highest and most stringent ‘excellent’ quality standards.

The European Environment Agency’s (EEA) data confirm large decreases in air pollutant concentrations — of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations in particular — largely due to reduced traffic and other activities, especially in major cities under lockdown measures. Reductions of around half have been seen in some locations. The EEA’s data are measured hourly, on the ground, at about 3,000 monitoring stations across European countries.

Published: 05 Mar 2020

The report presents an updated assessment of the population exposed to high levels of environmental noise and the associated health impacts in Europe, based on the new World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. The report also documents actions being taken to manage and reduce noise exposure and reviews the progress made towards meeting policy objectives. The evaluation of the status of exposure to environmental noise in Europe is based on the latest data collected under the Environmental Noise Directive (END). The report also describes other relevant issues, such as inequalities in exposure to environmental noise as well as impacts on wildlife.

Published: 16 Dec 2019

It is currently not possible to perform in-depth environmental and health risk assessments of all chemical substances in use in Europe because of the great variety of chemicals and their diverse uses. New and legacy chemicals continue to be released into Europe’s environment, adding to the total chemical burden on Europe’s citizens and ecosystems. Early identification of emerging risks is one of the activities of the European Environment Agency (EEA). This briefing summarises the known and potential risks to human health and the environment in Europe posed by a group of very persistent chemicals, the per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).

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