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Belgians go to court to demand better air quality standards
Fed up with a lack of government solutions or any seeming urgency on the matter, nine Belgians are taking the matter of the country’s air quality to court.
The World Health Organisation tightened its standards last September when it comes to particulate matter in the air, lowering its advisory values from 10 to five micrograms per cubic metre of air (µg/m³)
When it comes to nitrogen dioxide – generally an indicator of traffic pollution – the limit was lowered from 40 to 10 µg/m³.
Belgian limits are four to five times higher than these recommended levels at 25 µg/m³ for particulate matter and 40 µg/m³ for nitrogen dioxide.
These numbers are especially high in Brussels, where car traffic is among the worst when it comes to major European cities. A recent study found that air pollution levels in Brussels were incredibly high even near schools and playgrounds.
The nine Belgians filing a lawsuit are directing it against the government for failing air quality policies. They are demanding that Belgian air quality be brought into line with the World Health Organisation's advice.
Belgium’s current measures for tackling air pollution include low-emission zones, traffic plans to reduce the number of vehicles in residential areas, air filters and cleaner engines in cars and machinery.
But the nine Belgians, most of whom suffer from respiratory problems, say that progress has been too slow and they’re tired of the authorities' procrastination.