Brussels Meeting on Air Pollution and Health: Taking stock of the proposed revision to the Ambient Air Quality Directive.

May 24, 2023

HEI cohosted a meeting along with the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE), on May 24, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.

The aim of this meeting was to discuss the recently proposed revisions to the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD), its strengths and weaknesses, identify remaining challenges and explore additional policy options. A number of important scientific and policy questions were be discussed, for example health effects at low levels of exposure, the relative contributions of different sources or constituents, best practice examples of successful air quality interventions, and ultimately the question of how to maximize health benefits for everyone in Europe and beyond.


Chairs of the Workshop: Zorana J Andersen and Barbara Hoffmann, European Respiratory Society (ERS) Hanna Boogaard, Health Effects Institute (HEI) and International Society of Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) Europe.

Watch the Event


Breakfast Meeting: Building Alliances for Healthy Air

May. 24, 2023 - 7:30am

Restaurant Thon Hotel (by invitation)


May. 24, 2023 - 8:30am

Opening Address

May. 24, 2023 - 9:00am

Chairs of the workshop: Zorana J Andersen and Barbara Hoffmann, European Respiratory Society (ERS), Hanna Boogaard, Health Effects Institute (HEI) and International Society of Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) Europe.
Opening address - Virginijus Sinkevicius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries (video address)
Opening address - Maria Neira, WHO Geneva (video address)
Opening address - Javi Lopez, EU Parliament, Rapporteur for the AAQD (video address)

Session 1: Proposal for Revisions of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive and its potential to improve health in Europe

May. 24, 2023 - 9:30am

Chairs: Michal Krzyzanowski (Imperial College London) and Ebba Malmqvist (Lund University)

The session gives an overview of the recently proposed revisions of the EU AAQD, and other concurrent European air quality and climate actions, against the backdrop of the European Green Deal. The proposal will set new limit values that are aligned more closely with the 2021 WHO Air Quality Guidelines, and is currently considered by the European Parliament and the Council. The session also gives overview of the latest data on air pollution levels, estimates of related health buden in Europe, and prospects for 2030 and beyond.

9:30 AM Proposed revisions to the Ambient Air Quality Directive

9:45 AM Air pollution levels and health burden in Europe

10:00 AM Clean Air Outlook: the prospects for EU air quality for 2030 and beyond

Coffee break

May. 24, 2023 - 10:20am

Session 2: Reviewing the Latest Science on Air Pollution and Health – Part 1

May. 24, 2023 - 10:45am

Chairs: Hanna Boogaard (HEI and ISEE) and Klea Katsouyanni (Imperial College London) 

The session will review the latest science on ambient air pollution and health from Europe and beyond as a essential reference for evaluating the proposed AAQD. It will present findings from recent key studies on air pollution and an array of adverse health effects including asthma, cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, and dementia. Those studies report associations with health effects at levels below current and proposed EU limit values, pointing to the need for even more ambitious standards. 

10:45 AM Life after 2021 WHO AQG - What does science tell us?

10:55 AM Effects of low-level air pollution: A study in Europe, and a harmonized analyses with large studies in Canada and the United States

11:15 AM Beyond mortality: Summarizing important health effects of air pollution across the life- course.

  • Pregnancy and early childhood – Eric Melen, Karolinska Institutet and ERS
  • Cognitive development and neurologic disorders – Barbara Hoffmann, University of Düsseldorf and ERS
  • Cardiovascular disease – Petter Ljungman, Karolinska Institutet, ISEE, and European Society of Cardiology (ESC)
  • Cancer - Michelle Turner, ISGlobal and ISEE

Session 3: Moderated Discussion – How to maximize public health benefits to ensure clean air in Europe for all

May. 24, 2023 - 11:35am

Moderator: Margherita Tolotto, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

Panel: Francesco Forastiere, Imperial College London; Paul Dendale, European Society of Cardiology (ESC); Richard Price, European Cancer Organization (ECO); Ole Bakke, Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME); Sibylle Reichert, International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM).

Lunch Break

May. 24, 2023 - 12:15pm

Session 4: Reviewing the Latest Science on Air Pollution and Health – Part 2

May. 24, 2023 - 1:30pm

Chairs: Gerard Hoek (Utrecht University) and Göran Pershagen (Karolinska Institutet).

The session will present findings regarding the health effects of pollutants of “emerging concern” including ultrafine particles and “natural” source contributions, such as wildfires, which are only expected to increase due to climate change. It will explore additional policy options and discuss how citizen science may contribute to clean air. 

1:30 PM Pollutants of “emerging concern”: Current state of knowledge

1:45 PM Pollutants from “natural” sources: Innocent bystanders or harmful pollutants?

2:00 PM Citizen science perspective: New avenues for research and action

Coffee Break

May. 24, 2023 - 2:15pm

Session 5: Solutions - National and Local Level Perspectives Towards Clean Air

May. 24, 2023 - 2:30pm

Chairs: Evi Samoli (University of Athens) and Iana Markevych (Jagiellonian University).

This session discusses actions at national and local level towards meeting the current and proposed limit values, and beyond. The session will discuss experiences, obstacles and opportunities towards clean air in Europe. Cities in particular are at the forefront of innovation and transformation, leading the way for bold climate and air quality action towards a more sustainable future. 

2:30 PM City-specific actions towards clean air

2:45 PM Best practices towards clean air

3:00 PM Air quality and health in Southeastern Europe to inform policy action

Session 6: Moderated Discussion – Clean Air in Europe For All: Where do we need to go from here?

May. 24, 2023 - 3:15pm

Moderator: Mark Nieuwenhuijsen (ISGlobal and ISEE)

Panel: Francois Wakenhut or Thomas Henrichs, European Commission, Directorate General Environment; Jason Sacks (US Environmental Protection Agency; Alex Simidchiev (Bulgarian National Assembly (Parliament); Kjeld Hansen (European Lung Foundation); Thomas Lymes (Eurocities); Anne Stauffer (Health and Environment Alliance); Jacob Hagberg (Swedish Presidency)

Closing Comments and Adjourn

May. 24, 2023 - 4:00pm

Reception (hosted with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies)

May. 24, 2023 - 4:15pm
Thon Hotel EU
75 Rue de la Loi
1000 Brussels

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