Published: 17:34, February 21, 2024 | Updated: 21:07, February 21, 2024
EU strikes deal to strengthen air quality standards
By Reuters

This photo taken on Feb 20, 2024 from the roof of Duomo Cathedral shows a view of Milan, Italy. Temporary restrictions were enforced in northern Italy, especially the Lombardy region, in response to persistent high levels of air pollution. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

BRUSSELS - The European Parliament and EU member states reached a deal late on Tuesday to strengthen air quality standards across the 27-nation European Union, they said in a statement.

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The new rules set out air quality standards for 2030 in the form of pollutant limits and target values that are closer to the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Under the Tuesday's provisional agreement, annual limits for PM2.5 and NO2 would be reduced from 25 µg/m³ to 10 µg/m³ and from 40 µg/m³ to 20 µg/m³ respectively

The European Environment Agency said in November that pollution caused by fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which affects people with heart diseases in particular, led to 253,000 deaths in the EU in 2021. Pollution from nitrogen dioxide (NO2), most harmful to people with diabetes, resulted in 52,000 deaths and short-term ozone (O3) exposure led to 22,000 deaths.

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Under the Tuesday's provisional agreement, annual limits for PM2.5 and NO2 would be reduced from 25 µg/m³ to 10 µg/m³ and from 40 µg/m³ to 20 µg/m³ respectively.

This photo taken on Feb 20, 2024 from the roof of Duomo Cathedral shows a view of sunset in Milan, Italy. Temporary restrictions were enforced in northern Italy, especially the Lombardy region, in response to persistent high levels of air pollution. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The agreement provides member states with the possibility to request, by Jan 31, 2029, and for specific reasons and under strict conditions, a postponement of the deadline for attaining the air quality limit values.

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The deal has to be formally confirmed by the European Parliament and Council and then it will go through the adoption procedure.