Brussels, 16 July 2015 – Over 90% of city dwellers in Europe are exposed to air pollution levels which are harmful to health. Yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee on the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive is an important step towards improving air quality and protecting public health in Europe. This report refused to exclude the agricultural sector from efforts to reduce air pollution. Farmers have to contribute to public health too.
Today, air pollution levels around Europe of fine particles (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur oxides, and other pollutants far exceed World Health Organization recommendations. Poor air quality exacerbates incidence of allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease. The NEC directive could save a third of the over 400,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution and reduce health costs by hundreds of billions across Europe. .
The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), the European COPD Coalition (ECC) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) welcome today’s vote, with the report adopted by a large majority.
Nina Renshaw, Secretary-General of EPHA aid, “This is a vital signal for public health. We call on all MEPs to support this report at Plenary in October. Improving air quality will save lives, prevent illness and ease suffering right across Europe.” 
Notes to editors Health related costs of air pollution are between €330 and €940 billion annually, between 3 and 9% of the EU’s total GDP COPD accounts for €4 billion of the direct cost of air pollution, not including economic loss due to decreased productivity. Health inequalities are particularly relevant because air pollution more severely effects those of low socio-economic status as do chronic diseases like COPD and cardiovascular disease. The amendments included the addition of mercury as one of the covered pollutants, and binding adherence to 2025 targets.