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.

Ninety-six percent of Europe’s urban population was exposed to fine particulate matter above the health-based guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the latest annual European Environment Agency (EEA) air quality assessment published today.

Breaches of EU air quality limits for nitrogen dioxide across Europe were predominantly due to road traffic, while domestic heating lay behind the majority of exceedances for particulate matter, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) assessment on air quality plans published today.

High-quality green and blue spaces in cities, like parks, allotments, riverbanks and coastlines, are crucial for health and well-being, in particular for the elderly, children and people on low incomes. However, a European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing, published today, shows that access is not equal.

Published: 20 Jan 2022

This briefing belongs to a series called ‘Narratives for Change’, which explores the diversity of ideas needed to move our society towards sustainability and fulfil the ambitions of the European Green Deal. The briefing reflects on the lessons learned from COVID-19, asking how these lessons can be applied to our quest for sustainability, and how we can achieve a model of societal governance that respects planetary health as the pre-condition for human and economic health.

Published: 22 Jun 2021

The COVID19 pandemic is having immense effects on societies across the world. It has caused millions of deaths worldwide and challenged our health systems and economies. The pandemic - and responses to it, involving lockdowns, use of personal protection equipment, and stay-at-home measures - has far reaching health and economic consequences. This briefing deals with the less visible impacts on our environment and climate originating from changed use of single use-plastics because of the pandemic.

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