Tackling Air Pollution and Climate Change – A call for action now

Tackling Air Pollution and Climate Change – A call for action now

Annual Congress 2022 of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

(Prague, Czech Republic, 1-3 July 2022) Both Air pollution and climate change are the greatest environmental risk for health. In the case of climate change with its many negative impacts on humanity, an increase in the occurrence of allergy and diseases linked to it are already clear.

Extensive retrospective studies in the US, Europe and Asia already convincingly show that over the last 30-40 years the pollen seasons have lengthened by up to 20 days while the concentration of pollen in the air has progressively increases. Looking forward 50 years, modelling studies taking account of projected increases in CO2, temperature, rainfall and land cover change show dramatic further increases in the extent of pollen release and seasons with accompanying allergic disease that could double by 2060.

Short lived climate pollutants (SLCP) such as particulates (black carbon, BC) from combustion have wide ranging effects on non-communicable diseases and cancer as well as stunting fetal growth. Particulates also promote global warming with a potential 1,500 times greater than CO2.
If BC lands on ice or snow, it becomes darker, absorbs more sunlight and melts faster. The SLCPs, black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluorocarbons, are responsible for up to 45% of current global warming. Thus, widespread and fast action to reduce SLCP emissions has the potential to reduce warming by as much as 0.6°C over the next few decades while full mitigation of CO2 and short-lived climate pollutants could reduce the rate of sea-level rise by up to 50%.

Since there are no safe levels of air pollutants for health, attempts need to focus on meeting the new WHO health-based guideline values which for particulate less than 2.5mM in diameter (PM 2.5) the annual average is now 5mg/m 3 (from 10 mg/m 3 in 2005) and for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) 10mg/m 3 from 20 mg/m 3 in 2005. For the UK as an example, an interim PM 2.5 value of 10mg/m 3 could be achieved in most localities by 2030 simply by adopting Net Zero Carbon practices to meet climate change objectives along with feasible reductions in emissions from cooking, wood burning, construction machinery, heating, railways/ships and aviation, agriculture and small-scale waste burning. According to the Clean Air Fund* in meeting climate
objectives by 2030, PM 2.5 would fall by 23% and could lead to children across the UK suffering an average of 388,000 fewer days of asthma symptoms a year, a fall in cases of coronary heart disease of over 3,000 cases/year, and a rise in average life expectancy of 9-10 weeks across those born in 2018. Between 2018 and 2134, the health and economic benefits could be worth up to £380bn. Incorporating clean air as a key priority within climate actions will accelerate progress towards both global climate and health goals.

“Health professionals, that includes allergists, need to take air pollution seriously by engaging with and encouraging efforts to reduce pollutant emissions and provide patients with the information they need to make decisions to improve their health and at the same time mitigate against climate change. The co-benefits of tackling the classical particulate and gaseous pollutants at the same time as practices to achieve Net Zero Carbon will give immediate returns on health and at the same time achieve sustainable development goals more rapidly,” says Stephen Holgate, the UK Royal College of Physicians Special Advisor on Air Quality, at the
opening plenary session of the EAACI Congress in Prague.

* The Pathway to Healthy Air in the UK. The Clean Air Fund, March 2022.


The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) is an association of clinicians,
researchers and allied health professionals founded in 1956. EAACI is dedicated to improving the
health of people affected by allergic diseases. With more than 13 000 members from 125
countries and over 75 National Allergy Societies, EAACI is the primary source of expertise in
Europe and worldwide for all aspects of allergy.

EAACI Headquarters, Hagenholzstrasse 111, 3 rd Floor 8050 Zurich, CH- Switzerland
Tel: +41799561865

Link was copied!