Brussels Meeting on Air Pollution and Health: Recent Advances to Inform the European Green Deal

January 21, to January 22, 2020

HEI, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE), and the European Respiratory Society (ERS), held a meeting on January 21-22, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium (Agenda). The event was also supported by the European Commission.

The joint meeting, Air pollution and Health: Recent Advances to Inform the European Green Deal, reviewed the latest science on major pollutants, such as PM2.5 and NO2, and was a key step in evaluating whether to update Europe’s air quality policies. The workshop was followed on the second day by a separate briefing to the European Parliament summarizing these issues. 

For more information see the announcement or contact Hanna Boogaard ( or Roberta Sadauskaite ( 


Opening and Keynote

Jan 21, 2020 - 9:00am

Barbara Hoffmann, European Respiratory Society (ERS), Hanna Boogaard, Health Effects Institute (HEI) and ISEE Europe, and Nathalie Roebbel World Health Organization (WHO)

9:00 AM Opening remarks

9:10 AM Keynote

  • Virginijus Sinkevičius

    Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries

Session 1: The Current European and US Regulatory Contexts

Jan 21, 2020 - 9:30am

Chairs: Robert O’Keefe, HEI and Martin Williams, King’s College London 

The session summarizes the current European and US regulatory contexts, against the backdrop of the European Green Deal, which sets out how to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

9:30 AM The European Green Deal and air quality policy and its review

9:45 AM Air pollution and health: policy linkages

10:00 AM Overview of main conclusions of the Integrated Science Assessment for particulate matter

10:15 AM Discussion

Coffee break

Jan 21, 2020 - 10:30am

Session 2: How Low Should We Go? New Health Research on Low-level Air Ambient Pollution

Jan 21, 2020 - 11:00am

Chairs: Dorota Jarosinska, WHO Regional Office For Europe, and Dan Greenbaum, HEI

Although ambient air pollution levels are declining in high-income regions, epidemiological studies report associations with health effects at levels below current standards, raising questions about even lower standards. HEI is in the midst of funding three studies investigating the health effects of low-level exposure in very large populations in Europe and North America. This session will present the results currently available from those studies, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and discuss potential implications for future risk assessment and regulation.

11:00 AM Introduction: Why study the health effects of low levels of air pollution

11:10 AM Evidence from Europe - Effects of low-level air pollution: A study in Europe (ELAPSE)

11:30 AM Evidence from Canada - Mortality-air pollution associations in low exposure environments (MAPLE)

11:50 AM Evidence from the US - Air pollution and mortality in the Medicare population

12:10 PM Moderated discussion

Lunch break

Jan 21, 2020 - 12:45pm

Session 3: Recent Reviews Regarding the Health Effects of Ambient Air Pollution - What Do They Tell Us?

Jan 21, 2020 - 2:00pm

Chairs: Michal Krzyzanowski, WHO (retired), and Frank Kelly, King’s College London

The session will review the latest science on major air pollutants as a key step in evaluating whether to update Europe’s air quality policies. It will present findings from recent key reviews on air pollution health effects from Europe and beyond. It will describe approaches for evidence synthesis, and discuss possible paths forward.

2:00 PM Revisions of the WHO Air Quality Guidelines: current status

2:15 PM NO2 health effects on mortality – are they independent?

2:30 PM Health effects of ultrafine particles

2:45 PM Current knowledge on adverse effects of ambient air pollution: Approaches for evidence synthesis

3:15 PM Moderated discussion

Coffee break

Jan 21, 2020 - 3:45pm

Session 4: Air Quality Improvements and Climate Mitigation: Key Co-Benefits for Public Health

Jan 21, 2020 - 4:15pm

Chairs: Nathalie Roebbel, WHO and Annemoon van Erp, HEI

There is a long-standing interest in measuring the effectiveness of air quality and climate actions in improving health. Cities are taking bold air quality and climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. This session will review the latest science, and highlight key co-benefits benefits to inform the Europan Green Deal.

4:15 PM Health effects of air quality actions across the globe

4:35 PM The co-benefits of climate mitigation on air pollution

4:55 PM The power of place: Pathways to a healthy urban living

5:15 PM Towards clean air in cities: UNECE Expert Panel on Clean Air in Cities

5:25 PM Moderated discussion


Jan 21, 2020 - 6:00pm

Opening and Keynote

Jan 22, 2020 - 8:30am

Barbara Hoffmann, ERS, Hanna Boogaard, HEI and ISEE Europe, and Sophie Gumy, WHO

8:40 AM Keynote

Session 5: Health burden assessments for informing environmental policy in Europe: challenges and opportunities

Jan 22, 2020 - 9:00am

Chairs: Sophie Gumy, WHO and Mike Brauer, University of British Columbia

How important are air pollutants as a threat to public health? What are the potential health and economic benefits of meeting different air quality standards? Which sources contribute most to air pollution and its impacts? Scientists and regulators have turned to health burden assessment methods to answer such questions, often leading to an array of estimates. This session will present the most recent European Environmental Agency estimates of air pollution’s burden, explain some of the approaches and challenges in estimation and interpretation of air pollution’s health burden, and discuss opportunities for placing air pollution’s impacts into a broader perspective

9:00 AM Air quality in Europe

9:20 AM Quantifying the air pollution burden of disease

9:40 AM Source specific estimates and cost benefit analyses

10:00 AM Beyond mortality – communicating the public health burden of air pollution

10:15 AM Moderated discussion

Coffee break

Jan 22, 2020 - 10:45am

Session 6: Meeting Closing Session: Air pollution, Climate and Health: What Research and Policies Do We Need?

Jan 22, 2020 - 11:15am

Chairs: Dan Greenbaum, HEI and Hans Bruyninckx, EEA

In wrapping up the meeting, we will summarize the evidence presented, including whether there is a concentration below which no adverse health effects are observed for the major pollutants. In addition, we will discuss remaining uncertainties and priorities for future research and policy.

11:15 AM EU-funded research on air quality and health: achievements and future

11:30 AM Current knowledge on adverse effects of ambient air pollution: have we filled the gap? What more do we need to know?

11:45 AM Panel discussion and general discussion: What's next for the Green Deal?

12:45 PM Closing comments from the session chairs

1:00 PM Adjourn