ELF Chair Isabel Saraiva speaks at an ERS air quality workshop in Poland
On the 25 and 26 November, the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) held a workshop on air pollution advocacy in Warsaw, Poland. ELF Chair Isabel Saraiva attended this event to share expectations and experiences on air pollution advocacy, including insights from the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign.
Like many European countries, Poland is not currently meeting EU standards for clean air. Many Polish people rely on burning coal to heat their houses, which produces a lot of pollution and can make breathing clean air impossible in some cities.
The workshop brought together ERS experts in air quality, local organisations, national and international societies and patient organisations to discuss advocacy for cleaner air in Poland. Topics included risk communication, air quality and health, potential interventions and communicating with policy makers and society.
It was promising to see patient organisations so active in this area. Isabel noted that “as someone with a lung condition, you are always aware of the effects of air pollution because you can feel it. It is up to us to talk to our doctors and make them more aware of the effects”.
The event was also an opportunity to plan future advocacy actions on a larger scale, building on initiatives like the combined action on air quality. However, it was stressed that country-specific actions must be driven by local people so that any air quality improvements are sustainable.