Air pollution is the cause of death for more than 400,000 people every year. According to the WHO it is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and cancer. Increasingly, poor air quality leads to a significant worsening of the health of Europeans, resulting in costly consequences for the European Union – between €330 billion and €940 billion in 2010 alone.

The European Parliament has passed the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive, which sets out national limits on a range of air pollutants, including methane and ammonia. However, it excluded mercury and farm emissions which, according to the European Public Health Association, means it has missed the opportunity to achieve the air quality standards recommended by the World Health Organisation.

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