Brussels, 10 December 2015
[Sent to 28 Health ministers, Environment ministers, Health and Environment Attachés (in Brussels)]
Subject: Public Health recommendations for strong National Emission Ceiling (NEC) Directive
We, the undersigned 17 health organisations, representing thousands of health professionals and affected European citizens, are writing to you ahead of the 16th December meeting where you will discuss the revision of the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive to urge you to support saving the lives of tens of thousands of Europeans lost each year. We urge you to:
- Keep methane and mercury among the pollutants covered by the targets, based on the strong scientific evidence of their contribution to air pollution and health impacts;
- Include legally binding targets for all pollutants for Member States to be met by 2025, targets supported by the European Parliament, and give priority to early action to significantly decrease air pollution
- Support greater emission reduction commitments (ERCs) going beyond the 52% reduction in health impact by 2030 as proposed by the European Commission. This is especially important for ammonia as cutting its emissions would reduce Particulate matter (PM) levels and exposure and therefore improve people’s health;
- Reject unnecessary flexibilities which could in-fact dilute the ambitious content of the Directive, such as the adjustment of emission inventories, adjustment of emission factors and three-year averaging in case of dry summers or cold winters.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to air pollutants, including fine particulate matter, is a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases in adults, including ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and cancer. WHO evidence also underline that children’s healthy development is particularly under threat from air pollution (1). It poses a considerable health threat not only to current but also future generations (2). New studies are emerging which indicate the role of ambient air pollution in the development of other chronic conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, mental health, obesity (3) and childhood leukaemia (4). Air pollution has a gender dimension too because of physiological differences between women and men leading to differing pollutant health effects. PM associated Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) risks are statistically significantly higher among women with diabetes (5).