Federal Commission Urges Revision of Swiss Air Quality Standards
Posted by: Baris Karapinar
In a recent evaluation, the Federal Commission for Air Hygiene (FCAH) analyzed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) updated air quality guidelines from 2021, emphasizing their significance for Switzerland’s Air Pollution Control Ordinance (OAPC). The FCAH recommends adjusting the Ordinance for pollutants SO2, NO2, CO, O3, PM10, and PM2.5 to align with the WHO’s revised guideline values.
Switzerland’s current air quality standards, based on WHO’s 2005 guidelines, need adaptation to meet the Environmental Protection Act requirements. Recent research indicates adverse health effects at lower pollutant concentrations, leading the WHO to lower its recommended levels in 2021.
The FCAH advises aligning Switzerland’s standards with the WHO’s updated levels, removing two irrelevant limit values. These changes aim to fulfill Environmental Protection Act obligations, protecting the entire population, especially vulnerable groups.
Recommendations include adjusting ambient limit values in the OAPC’s Annex 7, as detailed in the provided table, while maintaining unchanged values for other pollutants. The FCAH supports addressing soot and UFPs as suggested in the WHO’s 2021 guidelines, emphasizing their avoidance.
These recommendations align with evidence-based WHO guidelines, ensuring Switzerland’s air quality standards meet Environmental Protection Act standards. To achieve this, sustained emission reduction, national and cantonal plan adjustments, and international cooperation are essential. The recent EU decision to align with WHO values by 2035 sets a significant precedent in this global effort.