Shocking levels of Brussels pollution revealed

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Independent air quality measurements carried out by environmental law organisation ClientEarth have revealed the shockingly high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on the streets of Brussels and alarming flaws in the official monitoring network.

Concentrations of the gas, which in Brussels comes mostly from diesel vehicles, were in places almost two and a half times the legal limit and almost double the highest official records published by Bruxelles Environnement.

ClientEarth measured NO2 levels at various points on four different streets of the capital: Rue Belliard, Rue de la Loi, Arts-Loi and Avenue des Arts. In all but one location – outside the parliament, well away from the road – there were illegal and harmful levels of pollution.

Outside the US Embassy, ClientEarth recorded levels just under 100 μg/m3 on average during the measurement campaign. The legal limit is an annual mean of 40 μg/m3. On Rue de la Loi concentrations were above 90 μg/m3. During the same period, the highest official records published by Bruxelles Environnement were just over 50 μg/m3 (Avenue de la Couronne).

ClientEarth, along with five Brussels residents, has taken legal action against the Brussels government for failing to deal with illegal levels of air pollution in the capital and failing to monitor it effectively.

ClientEarth lawyer Ugo Taddei said: These are simply shocking levels of air pollution. By hiding the real state of the air in the capital, the Brussels government is exposing all of us to unacceptable health risks.

Brussels citizens’ right to clean air has been denied for too long. The Brussels government has a legal and moral obligation to immediately correct the alarming flaws in its monitoring network. As it stands, they are not giving us an accurate picture of air quality in the city.

“The authorities must also adopt urgent and ambitious measures to bring the levels of air pollution within the legal limits in the shortest time possible.”

Karin De Schepper and Lies Craeynest, who live in Brussels and who are claimants in the legal case, said: “These results show that the situation is much more serious than we thought. We’re worried that children and other vulnerable groups are breathing toxic air on a daily basis, causing irreparable damage to their health.

“We expect our government to properly inform and protect its citizens. The Brussels Region has announced a first package of measures. We’re counting on the Region and municipalities to combine their efforts as soon as possible and step up ambition. These alarming results show once again that we need effective policies to make healthy mobility easy and attractive for all. Nobody stands to lose, if everyone’s health stands to gain.”

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La congestion et la pollution de l’air coûtent trop cher !

Qui passe par Bruxelles aura eu la pénible expérience d’être pris dans d’interminables bouchons. En effet, en 2013, la Brussels Enterprises and Commerce Industry (BECI) estime le temps perdu dans les embouteillages à 32 millions d’heures annuellement dans la région de Bruxelles. Un triste record face à d’autres villes en Europe.

Ainsi, le temps perdu dans les embouteillages représente un coût de 375 millions d’euros par an, coût auquel la BECI a ajouté celui de la pollution de l’air, du changement climatique, de la pollution sonore et des accidents. Le coût total s’élève à 511 millions d’euros, dont 70 millions seraient dus à la pollution de l’air. Mais cette dernière estimation est basse, en réalité, les coûts sont susceptibles d’être beaucoup plus élevés.

Pour remédier à ce problème et réduire les coûts, la BECI propose, entre autres, que les entreprises donnent, au lieu d’une voiture de société, des aides au loyer des Bruxellois, que le RER (réseau express régional) soit mis en place au plus vite, qu’un plan cohérent de parkings de transit autour des gares soit mis en œuvre, ou encore qu’un péage avec un système de taxation au kilomètre soit instauré.

Par ailleurs, une autre étude montre que – outre le fait que 31 personnes meurent chaque année dans des accidents de la route – 632 personnes meurent prématurément à cause de la pollution de l’air à Bruxelles. Ainsi, les auteurs de l’étude Aphekom ont calculé que si les normes de l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS) seraient suivies correctement, il serait possible de postposer 436 de ces décès prématurés. De plus, cela représenterait 758 millions d’euros de coûts épargnés.

Brussels traffic jams, the biggest cause of air pollution, carry a yearly cost of 511 million Euros

Every year, cars are stuck for 32 million hours in jams in the Brussels region. In 2013, BECI calculated the yearly cost of traffic jams in the capital. They carry a total cost of 511 million Euro, of which 70 million would be due to air pollution. Unfortunately the costs are likely to be much higher.

Yearly 31 people die in traffic accidents, but 632 die early due to air pollution. The APHEKOM study calculated that 758 million Euros would be saved if the guidelines of the WHO would be followed.