From: Associated Press
Published October 24, 2006 12:00 AM

EU Governments Back New Air Pollution Rules

LUXEMBOURG -- European Union governments on Monday backed new rules to combat air pollution by setting binding limits on levels of harmful dust particles, which the EU blames for up to 350,000 deaths every year.

The bill requires the EU's 25 members to reduce levels of such particles _ emitted by a range of sources that includes diesel engines, industrial processes and household boilers _ by 20 percent between 2010 and 2019.

"This is a very clear signal for European citizens of our commitment to combat air pollution," said Finnish Environment Minister Jan-Erik Enestam, who chaired the EU talks.

The bill still needs approval from the European Parliament where some parties have sought to reduce its impact on industry, which complains the new rules will cost it billions of euros (dollars). The EU says those costs will be more than offset by health care savings.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the bill would be an important tool to reduce deaths from respiratory diseases, cancer and heart complaints. "The scourge of air pollution is still shortening European citizens' lives by an average of eight months," he told a news conference.

Source: Associated Press

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