Brussels Urged by 140 Experts to Improve Air Quality and ‘Save Lives’ in Europe’s Most Polluted City

As the countdown to the regional and local elections in Brussels begins, a coalition of 140 health and environmental experts has issued a compelling call to action for politicians to confront the city’s severe air pollution crisis.

Data from IS Global research reveals alarming statistics: Brussels is ranked eighth among over 800 European cities for elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide, prompting concerns over public health and the urgent need for decisive measures.

The Belgian capital’s residents are confronted with concentrations of fine particles (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide surpassing World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations by two and fivefold respectively.

Such hazardous levels of air pollutants are not merely numbers on a chart; they translate into tangible risks to public health, including heightened probabilities of cardiovascular disease, strokes, dementia, diabetes, and certain cancers.

In an open letter addressed to Brussels politicians, the coalition of experts, comprising doctors, scientists, and health and environmental activists, underscored the gravity of the situation.

“Every year, more than 900 Brussels residents succumb prematurely due to poor air quality,” they emphasized. “This translates to over two deaths per day, a figure representing more than 10% of all fatalities in the Belgian capital.”

The letter’s timing is significant, coinciding with recent political discussions regarding the efficacy of measures to combat air pollution.

The French-speaking socialists PS, along with centrists Défi, have advocated for a relaxation of restrictions within the Low Emission Zone (LEZ), specifically proposing a delay in the ban on Euro-5 cars in Brussels. Such proposals have ignited debates over the prioritization of public health versus economic interests.

The experts, however, stress the indispensable link between air quality and societal well-being. They highlight the disproportionate impact of air pollution on vulnerable demographics, particularly children and low-income households.

“Children, with their developing metabolisms and proximity to pollution sources, are especially susceptible,” the experts explain. “Moreover, low-income communities, often residing in more polluted neighbourhoods, face compounded health risks with limited access to mitigating resources such as green spaces and healthy foods.”

The implications of unchecked air pollution extend beyond individual health concerns, encompassing broader societal inequities and economic burdens. While the immediate focus may revolve around political manoeuvring in the run-up to elections, the imperative to address air quality transcends partisan interests.

It is a matter of safeguarding public health, ensuring environmental justice, and fostering sustainable urban development.

With the electorate poised to cast their votes, the spotlight is on Brussels’ political leadership to heed the expert recommendations and enact robust policies that prioritize public health and environmental stewardship.

As the city navigates its future trajectory, the decisions made today will reverberate for generations to come, shaping the health and well-being of Brussels’ residents and defining its place among Europe’s urban centres.

In the face of mounting evidence and impassioned pleas, the question remains: Will Brussels rise to the challenge and emerge as a beacon of progress in the fight against air pollution, or will political expediency overshadow the imperative for decisive action? The answer awaits at the ballot box.


This article was created using automation and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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