Janez Potočnik, Member of the EC in charge of Environment, gave a press conference on the EU Clean Air Policy Package. The human toll for poor air quality was worse than for road traffic accidents, making it the number one environmental cause of premature death in the EU. It also impacted the quality of life due to asthma or respiratory problems.
The EC was responding with new measures to reduce air pollution, adopted on the same day. The clean air policy package updated existing legislation and further reduces harmful emissions from industry, traffic, energy plants and agriculture, with a view to reducing their impact on human health and the environment.
Air pollution caused also lost working days, and high healthcare costs, with vulnerable groups such as children, asthmatics and the elderly the worst affected. It also damaged ecosystems through excess nitrogen pollution (eutrophication) and acid rain.
The direct costs to society from air pollution, including damage to crops and buildings, amounted to about €23 billion per year. The benefits to people's health from implementing the package were around €40 billion a year, over 12 times the costs of pollution abatement, which were estimated to reach € 3.4 billion per year in 2030.