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Air Pollution

Preventing lung cancer cases in Europe by establishing robust EU laws on air pollution

In October 2022, the European Commission published its proposal to revise the EU legislation on air pollution, setting the annual limit value for Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) at 10 µg/m³ (reduction from the current 25 µg/m³) by 2030.

Emerging new evidence - first presented at the 2022 ESMO Congress held in Paris - demonstrated the molecular mechanism underlying the link between air pollution and lung cancer in non-smokers. Moreover, exposure to air pollution is increasingly being linked to lung cancer incidence and mortality, with more than 300,000 lung cancer deaths globally being related to exposure to ambient (outdoor) air pollution in 2019.

Given the health-related implications of air pollution, ESMO advocated for a reduction in the annual limit value for PM2.5 in the EU to 5 μg/m³ by 2030. Adopting such limit would be in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations on air pollution.

ESMO’s response to the EU public consultation and engagement with MEPs helped to secure the recent adoption in plenary (full session) of the European Parliament’s report on the ongoing revision of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directives which reflects ESMO’s recommendations to set the annual limit value for PM2.5 at 5 µg/m³ and aligns EU air quality standards with the most recent WHO guidelines. The recent adoption of the report confirms the European Parliament’s mandate to enter the interinstitutional negotiations with the co-legislators – the European Commission and EU Council - to negotiate and agree the final text of the Directive.

ESMO continues engaging with the EU institutions and EU Member States to secure the inclusion of its recommendations in the final text of this legislation, in order to help prevent new cancer cases.

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