REC chairs stakeholder meeting during Year of Air
By Eva Csobod
The European Commission, in declaring 2013 as the Year of Air, is bringing forth new proposals on how to improve air quality across Europe, as well as to highlight the importance of clean air for all. Meanwhile the Regional Environmental Center is making several Year of Air contributions by hosting a number of events focusing on environment and health, transport, energy and climate change.
With support from the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, the European Parliament hosted a special stakeholder convention on April 23, 2013. REC Executive Director Marta Szigeti Bonifert chaired the event, at which provisional results of the SINPHONIE project on children's health and indoor air quality were shared. A discussion on guidelines and recommendations for healthy environments within European schools also took place.
SINPHONIE (Schools Indoor Pollution and Health: Observatory Network in Europe) is a complex research project, the primary aim of which is to improve air quality in schools and kindergartens. The project was initiated by the European Parliament and implemented under a service contract with the European Commission (Directorate-General for Health and Consumers, DG SANCO). The project consortium of 25 European countries hopes that provisional outcomes of the SINPHONIE project will make an important contribution to ongoing revisions to the European Air Quality Policy.
The SINPHONIE event was opened by MEPs Erik Banki (Hungary) and Elisabetta Gardini (Italy), both of whom are members of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and are committed to the issues of indoor air quality being addressed. Keynote speaker Roberto Bertollini, a leading scientist and WHO representative to the EU, spoke about "Challenges of air quality and public health in WHO Europe" and emphasised the need for comprehensive cooperation between sectors and stakeholders to reduce environmental burdens on public health.
SINPHONIE concepts and objectives were introduced by Eduardo de Oliveira Fernandes (IDMEC-FEU at Porto University) and Eva Csobod (REC), after which Isabella Annesi-Maesano (UMPC Paris) and Peter Rudnai, NIEH) discussed provisional results of the SINPHONIE observatory network the impacts and links of indoor air quality on health. Health risk assessment and policy recommendations were presented by Paolo Carrer (UMIL) and Tamas Pandics (NIEH), followed by a "Proposal for European guidelines for healthy school environments in relation to indoor air quality," presented by Stelios Kephalopoulos (JRC) and Eva Csobod.
Following the presentations, Szigeti Bonifert chaired a discussion around the following questions: What is the main benefit of the SINPHONIE project for Europe? How can the project support European Air Quality Policy and actions in European schools?
The discussion-group panellists, Michal Krzyzanowski (former director of the WHO's Bonn Office and the coordinator and editor of WHO guidelines on air quality), Roberta Salvi (EFA, representing the Health and Environment Alliance) and Stefania Romano (director of the Italian Trust Fund), emphasised the importance of the SINPHONIE project's observatory network in helping to understand the health effects of air pollution and informing EU policies.
Gianni Pittella, Vice-President of the European Parliament, in his closing remarks, suggested the stakeholder consultation event and the SINPHONIE in the attention of the EP. Meanwhile, the European Commission and WHO asks European citizens to take whatever action they can to improve air quality in Europe.
Please visit the SINPHONIE project website!