European Parliament Adopts New Measures to Improve Air Quality and Reduce Risk of Lung Cancer

25 April 2024

The European Parliament during his last Plenary of his term has adopted the European Directive on Air Quality setting up higher standards and strongest measures against air pollution.

The European Cancer Organisation (ECO) welcomes the approval of the text voted by the European Parliament - Lopez report - as a unique opportunity to prevent cancer in line with the European Plan to Combat Cancer and reduce the risk of respiratory diseases linked to air pollution.

Latest data provided by the Lancet Commission on pollution and health established that pollution causes up to 29% of all lung cancer deaths1. Also, the International Agency on Research of Cancer (IARC) declared air pollution as carcinogenic to humans in 2013, and the latest research shows link with other than lung cancer, including breast, colon, liver, stomach, kidney among others.

Therefore, ECO believes that the new EU directive is an important step to ensure that people experience a better quality of life and provides for compensation in the event of health harms caused by air pollution in violation of the new standards and will support local authorities by strengthening provisions on air quality monitoring, modelling and improving air quality plans.

However, ECO also notes that the directive does not commit the EU to a 'full alignment' of EU air quality standards with the WHO Air Pollution Guidelines 2021. The Time To Accelerate Manifesto: Together Against Cancer , a pan-European document signed by more than 200 healthcare professional organisations, election candidates and individuals, clearly mention that we need to go beyond 'minimum requirements' both in the EU and in the member states and set ambitious targets to meet EU air pollution targets and even exceed WHO guidelines. Furthermore, ECO calls for further studies and analyses to better understand the effects of population exposure to even lower levels of air pollution.