Noise pollution is a major problem, both for human health and the environment

Noise pollution is a growing problem across Europe and one which many people may not be aware of the impacts of on their health. We sat down with Eulalia Peris, the European Environment Agency’s environmental noise expert, to discuss the key findings of the EEA report ‘Environmental noise in Europe — 2020’, which was published earlier this month.

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Reflecting on climate-neutrality ambitions in Europe in times of Covid-19

European countries are taking drastic measures to limit the impacts of Covid-19 on Europeans’ health and the economy. Such crises tend to have immediate and severe impacts on entire populations and the economy. Considering its potential to affect key economic sectors, the coronavirus crisis is expected to reduce some of the impacts of economic activities on the environment and climate. Yet, major and abrupt shocks with an extremely high cost to society are not at all how the European Union has committed to transform its economy and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The European Green Deal and the recently proposed European Climate Law call instead for irreversible and gradual reductions in emissions, while ensuring a just transition, supporting those affected.

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The EEA’s European environment — state and outlook 2020 report plays a key role in supporting Europe’s renewed drive to sustainability

Earlier this month the European Environment Agency published its ‘European environment — state and outlook 2020 (SOER 2020)’ report. It concluded that Europe will not achieve its 2030 goals without urgent action during the next 10 years to address the alarming rate of biodiversity loss, increasing impacts of climate change and the overconsumption of natural resources. It also offered some key solutions, which would help put Europe back on course to meet those targets. We sat down with Tobias Lung, the EEA’s SOER coordination and assessment expert, to discuss the role of SOER 2020.

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SOER 2020 - At a glance

The European environment — state and outlook 2020 (SOER 2020) comes at a crucial time of urgent sustainability challenges that require urgent systemic solutions. The overarching challenge of this century is how we achieve development across the world that balances societal, economic and environmental considerations. Sustainability needs to become the guiding principle for ambitious and coherent policies and actions across society.

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How do environmental hazards affect vulnerable groups in Europe?

Targeted action is needed to better protect Europe’s most vulnerable populations, including the poor, the elderly and children, from environmental hazards like air and noise pollution and extreme temperatures. Aleksandra Kazmierczak, a European Environment Agency (EEA) climate change adaptation expert, explains the main findings of a new EEA report that assesses the links between social and demographic inequalities and exposure to air pollution, noise and extreme temperatures.

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Mercury: a persistent threat to the environment and people's health

Many people still associate mercury with thermometers and most also know that it is toxic. Because of its toxicity, mercury is on its way out from products in Europe but a lot of it is still circulating in air, water, soil and ecosystems. Is mercury still a problem and what is being done about it? We interviewed Ian Marnane, EEA expert on sustainable resource use and industry.

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Environmental change: knowledge is key to mitigating impacts on people and nature

Environmental policy making is not an easy task. On the one hand, Europeans want to enjoy the benefits a well-functioning economy provides. On the other, there are significant environmental and health costs attached to our lifestyle choices. A systemic understanding of how nature, economy and human health are connected is essential for identifying the best policy options available. The European Environment Agency aims to support policy making by providing exactly this kind of knowledge.

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Cleaner air benefits human health and climate change

Thanks to legislation, technology and moves away from heavily polluting fossil fuels in many countries, Europe’s air quality has been improving in recent decades. However, many people continue to be negatively affected by air pollution, especially in cities. Given its complexity, tackling air pollution requires taking coordinated action at many levels. To get citizens involved, providing them timely information in an accessible way is essential. Our recently launched Air Quality Index does just that. Improvements in air quality would not only benefit our health, but could also help tackle climate change.

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Climate change in Europe: Responding to disasters and preparing for an uncertain future

Floods, strong winds, heatwaves, droughts… Climate change and climate-change related extreme weather events are a cause of a growing concern not only in Europe but everywhere in the world. Many communities are affected by such extreme events and have to take measures to prevent and minimise the harm. How can communities adapt to a changing climate and prepare for and respond to climate-related disasters? We interviewed Sergio Castellari, EEA expert on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation.

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Chemicals in Europe: understanding impacts on human health and the environment

Exposure to harmful chemicals is known to have impacts on human health and the environment. With global chemical production on the rise and new chemicals being developed and put to use, how do we know what is considered safe? We discussed with Xenia Trier, EEA expert on chemicals, different issues linked to a safe use of chemicals in Europe and what the EU is doing to reduce their potential side effects.

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Noise pollution in the spotlight

In April, the European Environment Agency will help raise awareness of the growing problem of noise pollution across Europe. We discussed with Colin Nugent, an EEA noise pollution expert, the very real health impacts of noise which are often underestimated.

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Air quality remains a hot topic for many Europeans

Last month the European Environment Agency (EEA) released its latest ‘Air quality in Europe’ report which showed that while air quality is slowly improving, air pollution remains the single largest environmental health hazard in Europe. We sat down with Alberto González Ortiz, an EEA air quality expert, to discuss the report’s findings and how technologies like satellite imagery are helping to improve air quality research.

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Transport and public health

Air and noise pollution from transport cause a wide range of health problems, with road transport and diesel vehicles in particular the biggest contributors. The European Union and its Member States are taking a series of measures to reduce the impact of transport on health with some success. Innovative solutions and local action can improve the situation further.

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Towards cleaner and smarter mobility

Transport connects people, cultures, cities, countries and continents. It is one of the main pillars of the modern society and economy, allowing producers to sell their products across the world and travellers to discover new places. Transport networks also ensure access to key public services, such as education and health, contributing to a better quality of life. Connecting to transport helps boost the economy in remote areas, creating jobs and spreading wealth.

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Climate change and human health

Climate change in Europe is already affecting public health, and will continue to do so in the future. How does it affect Europeans today? What does the future look like? We asked these questions to Bettina Menne from WHO Europe.

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A Europe to thrive in – environment, health and well-being

The project on Foresighted Reasoning on Environmental Stressors and Health (FRESH) ran from 2013 to 2014 and investigated the frameworks and evidence base for undertaking integrated assessments of environmental health and well-being.

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Europe shouldn't be afraid of leading the world on environmental regulation

Over the past 40 years Europe has developed the most comprehensive, ambitious and binding environmental legislation existing anywhere today. And with good reason: these standards should be seen as a unique economic advantage.

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Environment, health and wellbeing: a systemic approach

The natural environment can benefit our health and quality of life, while environmental pollution has significant costs. Unfortunately, such links between environment, health and wellbeing are often ignored within science and policy. A new report highlights the importance of taking a broader, more systemic view.

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Europe’s agriculture: how to make food affordable, healthy and ‘green’

To produce food in sufficient quantities, Europe relies on intensive agriculture, which impacts the environment and our health. Can Europe find a more environment-friendly way to produce food? We asked this question to Ybele Hoogeveen who is leading a group at the European Environment Agency working on the impact of resource use on the environment and human well-being.

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Environment, health and economy all in one

The European economy is still feeling the impact of the economic crisis that started in 2008. Unemployment and pay cuts have affected millions. When new graduates cannot find jobs in one of the richest parts of the world, should we talk about the environment? The European Union's new environmental action programme does exactly this, but not only. It also identifies the environment as an integral and inseparable part of our health and our economy.

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