Current issues within EU and EU member states legal framework

Author:Cristina Mihaela Salca Rotaru
Position:Senior Lecturer, Universitatea Transilvania din Brasov, Faculty of Law, România
Pages:122-132
SUMMARY

One of the major environmental problems is pollution. General regulations and approaches concern the control of pollution of environmental factors (air, water, soil) or areas of major interest such as sustainable development, waste, green energy, e.g., which have the secondary effect of preventing and / or reducing environmental pollution. The current legislative framework on environmental protection takes into account, in addition to protecting the environment, as a general interest of national, European and international level, and the protection of human health. Studies from human health specialists show that one of the current challenges for human health protection is indoor air pollution. This type of air pollution exceeds both the occupational safety and health regulations and the specific air protection regulations. This study takes into account European - level legislation on environmental and air protection in particular and highlights the need for a coordinated approach and the establishment of a minimum legal framework on indoor air pollution.

 
CONTENT
122 CRISTINA MIHAELA SALCĂ ROTARU
CURRENT ISSUES WITHIN EU AND EU MEMBER STATES
LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Senior Lecturer Cristina Mihaela SALC ROTARU
Universitatea Transilvania din Braşov, Faculty of Law, România,
rotaruc@unitbv.ro
Abstract
One of the major environmental problems is pollution. General regulations and approaches
concern the control of pollution of environmental factors (air, water, soil) or areas of major interest
such as sustainable development, waste, green energy, e.g., which have the secondary effect of
preventing and / or reducing environmental pollution.
The current legislative framework on environmental protection takes into account, in addition
to protecting the environment, as a general interest of national, European and international level,
and the protection of human health.
Studies from human health specialists show that one of the current challenges for human health
protection is indoor air pollution. This type of air pollution exceeds both the occupational safety and
health regulations and the specific air protection regulations.
This study takes into account European - level legislation on environmental and air protection
in particular and highlights the need for a coordinated approach and the establishment of a minimum
legal framework on indoor air pollution.
Keywords: environmental law, environmental pollution, indoor air pollution, human health
1. Identifying the problem
Of the environmental factors that are affected by human activity, atmospheric
air occupies an important place in terms of regulations on its protection. Air
pollution is closely linked, as a result, to human health, quality of life and, last but
not least, to sustainable development. The importance of atmospheric air
protection is also given by the transnational character of pollution.
Thus, we can say that the regulations on the protection of this environmental
factor are found on all three regulatory levels: international, European and
national. The connection and the interdependence between them is generally valid
for all states and is regulated by specific normative acts.
Air protection regulations, which are numerous at EU level, can be grouped on
different criteria, such as pollutant emissions or air pollutant immissions. Thus, the
normative acts can be grouped into:
- normative acts regulating air pollution at source, where emissions of
pollutants into the atmosphere from different sources, which may be mobile or
stationary, industrial or domestic, permanent or occasional, are taken into account;
Law Review vol. VII, special issue, December 2017, p. 122-132
Current issues within EU and EU member states legal framework 123
- regulatory acts regulating air pollution from the point of view of the
admissible maximum of pollutants immissions in the atmosphere, in which case
we have regulated admissible maximums of pollutants irrespective of the source of
pollution from which it originates or the number of sources.
Studies [1], [2], [3] aimed at establishing the link between air pollution and
human health have recently revealed a close link between the incidence of illnesses
and the increased risk of illness with indoor air quality. It is clear that there is a
close link between indoor air quality and atmospheric air quality as atmospheric
air penetrates the enclosed spaces but it was found that although atmospheric air
quality was adequate, the quality of indoor air increases the risk of illness.
According to the European Lung Foundation [4]: indoor air pollution is the 8th
most important risk factor for disease and is responsible for an estimated 2.7% of
the global burden of all diseases; between 1.5 million and 2 million deaths a year
could be linked to indoor air pollution; over 900 different compounds have been
detected in indoor air and some pollutants may be 2-5 times more concentrated
inside rather than outside buildings.
In this way, even at the level of the European Union, the Community Action
Program for the Environment - EAP 7, takes into account the development and
taking measures to combat the causes of air pollution, taking into account the
differences between the sources of pollution in the external air and interior [5].
Indeed, indoor environments always contain complex mixtures of substances from
different sources, which may jointly contribute to the toxic effects [6].
2. Identification of the problem in the current European Union
environmental policy
One of the European Union's key policies is regarding the environment. This
policy is concretized through numerous documents, of which only the successive
environmental action programs (EAP) now provide the framework for the Union's
action in this field since 1973. Actual in this area is the seventh incident contained
in the Decision no. 1386 of 2013 on a General Program of the Union for Action on
the Environment by 2020 "‘Living well, within the limits of our planet" [5].
Following the assessment of the previous Environmental Action Program -
EAP 6, unsustainable trends were identified in the following priority sectors:
climate change; nature and biodiversity; the environment, health and quality of
life; natural resources and waste. Thus, in the current program, the new policy
elements of the Union are taken into account on the subject, which take into
account the following aspects [5]:
a) the fact that those air quality levels that do not cause significant negative
impacts on the environment and human health should be attained,
b) that chemicals must be produced and used in such a way as to minimize
significant adverse effects on human health and the environment,
124 CRISTINA MIHAELA SALCĂ ROTARU
c) the Union's policy on the environment must continue to be supported on a
sound knowledge basis and should ensure that the data on which political
decisions are based, including where the precautionary principle is invoked, can be
better understood at all levels,
d) all measures, actions and objectives set out in the 7th EAP should be carried
out in accordance with the principles of smart regulation [7].
These aspects have been transformed into the following priority objectives [5]:
- protecting Union citizens from environmental pressures and risks to health
and well-being,
- improving the knowledge and data base for the Union's policy on the
environment,
- improving the integration of environmental considerations and policy coherence.
Regarding the priority objective "Protecting Union citizens against
environmental pressures and against health and well-being risks", the current
program takes into account the recommended World Health Organization (WHO)
standards for specific levels of air pollution, including indoor air pollution.
However, there is a substantial difference between the policy on air pollution and
the policy on indoor air pollution. This is because for outdoor air the quality "will
be significantly improved, approaching the WHO recommended levels, while
indoor air quality will be improved on the basis of relevant WHO guidelines"[5].
Air pollution is also determined by the use of chemical substances, which in
time has led to the emergence of numerous normative acts regulating their
production, use or disposal. The current problems are due to the consequences for
human health and the environment caused by the combined effects of different
chemicals, commonly known as mixtures. In this regard, the EAP 7 in paragraph
54 ensures that by 2020 the effects of chemical combinations will be addressed
effectively in all relevant Union legislation, and the environmental and health
risks, especially for children, associated with the use of hazardous substances,
including chemicals in products, will be evaluated and minimized.
The EAP 7 also guarantees that long-term measures will be identified to
achieve the objective of a non-toxic environment, meaning that a Union strategy
for a non-toxic environment leading to innovation and the development of
substitutes will be developed by 2018 sustainable solutions including non-chemical
solutions. This strategy will consider :
- the safety of manufactured nanomaterials and materials with similar
properties;
- minimizing exposure to endocrine disrupters;
- appropriate regulatory approaches to address the effects of chemical
compounding;
- minimizing exposure to chemicals in products, including, among others,
imported products, with a view to promoting cycles of non-toxic materials and
reducing indoor exposure to harmful substances.
Current issues within EU and EU member states legal framework 125
There is a close link between the Union's policy on the environment and: the
results obtained by monitoring the environment; data, indicators and assessments
related to the implementation of Union legislation; formal scientific research. This
is why the interface between science and politics is important, alongside the more
efficient use of institutions and people specialized in adapting scientific knowledge
to public policies. There are important gaps in: data and information; sustainable
production and consumption patterns, how to better measure the costs and
benefits of the action and the costs of inaction; the implications of endocrine
disruptors, the combined effects of chemicals, certain chemicals in the composition
of products and certain nanomaterials on human health and the environment. In
reaching this policy area, AEP 7 shows that it is necessary:
- develop a comprehensive knowledge base on chemical exposure and toxicity,
based on data generated without animal testing, if possible;
- continue the EU coordinated approach on human and environmental
biomonitoring, including, where appropriate, standardizing research protocols
and evaluation criteria.
3. Identification of the problem in specialized studies and researches
Starting from the idea that legislation must transpose and regulate the
environmental and human health problems identified in the studies and research,
as outlined in the 7th EAP, to make the interface between science, politics and
legislation, it is not lacking of interest to be presented, even briefly, the scientific
part of the field.
I will only consider those studies, projects or reports that have been supported
and / or funded by the European Union. An example is the Complex Research on
Health, Environment, Transport and Climate Change (HETC) which aims to
improve indoor and outdoor air quality, especially in schools. This project was
debunked by Decision 604 of 2009, following the implementation of previous EU
pilot projects such as Health Effects of School Environment (HESE)1 or the HITEA
project: Integration of microbial, toxicological and epidemiological approaches2.
Funding for this type of research is due both to the results obtained in the
aforementioned research and to the fact that the first people affected are those
considered more vulnerable: children, pregnant women and the elderly. It is
recognized in the substantiation of funding that:”Indoor air quality has been in the
past given less attention in terms of research than outdoor air quality, even if
research in the latter area is applicable to indoor air in some cases. Also, there is
already a comprehensive framework of legislation concerning outdoor air,
1 Project carried out between 2002 and 2014 in schools in five European cities in Denmark,
France, Italy, Norway and Sweden. http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_projects/2002/pollution/
pollution_2002_04_en.htm
2 See the HITEA project report(Health effects of indoor pollutants: Integrating microbial,
toxicological and epidemiological approaches) pe http://cordis.europa.eu/result/rcn/57211_en.html
126 CRISTINA MIHAELA SALCĂ ROTARU
whereas indoor air regulation is made up of scattered initiatives and pieces of
legislation. Indoor air quality in schools has furthermore been much less studied
than indoor air quality in other indoor environments.” [8]
Internal air pollution was also investigated in projects funded by:
- European Parliament and concluded under contracts with the Directorate-
General of the European Commission for Health and Consumers, of which they
mention the SINPHONIE project - Internal Pollution in Schools and Health: The
Network Observatory in Europe; the PILOT INDOOR AIR MONIT Project [9],
- The European Commission in INDEX or SEARCH projects, of which: The
INDEX project. Critical Appraisal of the Setting and Implementation of Indoor
Exposure Limits in the EU [10] and School Environment and Respiratory Health of
Children.
All these projects have shown that:
- children spend more time in school than in any other place except the home,
so the in-school environment is a good reason for concern, knowing that they are a
particularly vulnerable group of the population,
- there is a harmful effect on health due to a range of indoor pollutants that can
be found in the indoor environment of schools, whether coming from ambient air
or being generated internally by materials, products or activities,
- the most common pollutants are formaldehyde, benzene, -pinene and
limonene, naphthalene, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon
dioxide (CO2), radon, trichlorethylene, PAH and BaP, breathable material particles
(PM10 and PM2.5), dust and mold allergens, and dust and air bacteria.
These conclusions, I believe, are applicable to any space that can not be defined
or interpreted as a job space, in accordance with Directive 654 of 1989, and to all
persons carrying out different activities in these premises.
At the level of the European Union, on the basis of a COST3 project of 1986 -
European Collaborative Action (ECA), "Indoor Air Quality and its Impact on
Man", has been implementing a multidisciplinary collaboration of European
scientists the ultimate goal of which was the provision of healthy and
environmentally sustainable buildings. Based on this project, 29 scientific reports
have been developed in the working areas of ECA:
- the relative importance of outdoor and indoor sources of pollution, - the
building-related interaction between outdoor urban and indoor air,
- exposure to pollutants from different urban and outdoor sources and its
relation to health and comfort.
By addressing such topics ECA will set the ground for air quality management
to minimize exposure to air pollutants. It will therefore continue to contribute to
pre-normative research needed by EC services and national authorities responsible
for preventing pollution and promoting health, comfort and quality of life. [11]
3 COST is an EU-funded programme that enables researchers to set up their interdisciplinary
research networks in Europe and beyond. Proiectul amintit a avut nr. 613 bis. http://www.cost.eu/
Current issues within EU and EU member states legal framework 127
These reports present the conclusions and recommendations on:
- Indoor air pollution with radon [12] [13]
- Indoor air pollution with formaldehyde [14] [15]
- Air Pollution with other Volatile Organic Compounds [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]
- Indoor air pollution with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) [21]
- Effect of indoor air pollution on human health [1] [2] [3] [22]
- Harmonization Guidelines and Strategies. [23] [24] [25]
Another benefit of these projects is that of the incipient definition of indoor air.
Thus, according to the HITEA project, indoor air is the one that belongs to indoor
environments. Indoor environments include homes, schools, day care centers,
offices, shopping centers and recreational facilities. They are diverse in their
technical quality, size, location and lifestyle aspects and often beyond the control of
traditional environmental regulatory tools. Therefore, control policies for indoor
air pollutants are still to be developed. Implementation of this goal necessitates
evidence-based practices which can only be achieved by focused research.
According to the study published in the European Lung White Book, indoor air
pollution is the term used to describe exposure to certain substances found in
homes, schools, transport and subway stations. ECA reports address the existing
air in buildings, especially in residential buildings.
4. Regulations that may affect indoor air pollution
As stated in the first part of this paper, legislation on air protection regulates
either pollutant emissions or pollutants immissions into the air. International4 and
European Union acts are intended to protect atmospheric air.
4.1. Air quality by immissions regulation
Directive 50 of 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, provides
in Art. 2 par. (1) that "ambient air" means the outdoor air in the troposphere, with
the exception of workplaces as defined by Directive 89/654 / EEC, which apply to
health and safety at work and to which members of the public do not have regular
access.
Of the 17 annexes to the Directive, the following are of particular importance:
- Annex II - Determination of concentrations of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides
and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2,5), lead, benzene and
carbon monoxide in ambient air within a zone or agglomeration;
- Annex X - Measurements of ozone precursor substances, listing a list of
volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for which measurements are recommended.
- ANNEX XI - Limit values for the protection of human health.
4 The 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution; Protocol to the 1979
Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution to reduce acidification, eutrophication and
ozone-depleting levels - Gotenborg; Protocol on the control of emissions of nitrogen oxides and their
transfrontier flow; Protocol on the reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions and their cross-border flow.
128 CRISTINA MIHAELA SALCĂ ROTARU
I believe that these requirements, limit values imposed for air quality can be
accepted as limit values and for the quality of indoor air.
From the interpretation of the entire normative act, it is clear that the drafting
of the directive did not take into account the protection of ambient air determined
as the surrounding air inside a building. With regard to the exception, ie
workplaces, Directive 654 of 1989, refers to the indoor air quality through the PC's.
6 Ventilation of enclosed workplaces in Annex 1. Thus:
- at art. 6.1. it is necessary thatsteps shall be taken to see to it that there is
sufficient fresh air in enclosed workplaces, having regard to the working methods
used and the physical demands placed on the workers. If a forced ventilation
system is used, it shall be maintained in working order. Any breakdown must be
indicated by a control system where this is necessary for workers' health.”, and
- at art. 6.2. it is shown that ”If air-conditioning or mechanical ventilation
installations are used, they must operate in such a way that workers are not
exposed to draughts which cause discomfort. Any deposit or dirt likely to create an
immediate danger to the health of workers by polluting the atmosphere must be
removed without delay.”
Thus more, this Directive shall not apply to means of transport used outside
the undertaking and / or the establishment, or workplaces inside means of
transport.
Therefore, places in public areas (playgrounds, schools, shopping centers,
cinemas, transport facilities, etc.) do not fall under any of the previous regulations,
thus avoiding any air quality control. If private spaces are added to these spaces,
we recognize the extent of the need for a regulation that protects human health
against the dangers of polluted indoor air.
4.2. Air quality by emissions regulation
Another legislative approach can be made through regulations that address
the amount of pollutants that can be emitted into the air.
With regard to atmospheric air, there are numerous regulations that determine
the types and maximum allowable amounts of pollutants that can be emitted. The
most significant in this respect is Directive 75 of 2010 on industrial emissions,
known as the IPPC Directive. To this is added a series of other normative acts, but
each of them regulates specifically a certain economic activity, industrial in terms
of emissions of gaseous pollutants into the atmosphere. And in this case it is
obvious that indoor air is not protected.
Some approach in this respect can be made through regulatory acts regulating
the quality of products, especially products that may be responsible for the
existence of the main indoor air pollutants identified in the studies and research
mentioned above.
In this respect, I would recall the existence of Decision 1332 of 2016
establishing the ecological criteria for the award of the EU Ecolabel for Furniture;
Current issues within EU and EU member states legal framework 129
Decision 176 of 2017 establishing criteria for the award of the EU Ecolabel for
wood, cork and bamboo flooring or Directive 42/2004 on the limitation of
emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in
certain paints and lakes and refinishing products and amending Directive 1999/13
/ EC.
Decision 1332 of 2016 establishes the ecological criteria for the award of the EU
Ecolabel for furniture, aims at the production and marketing of furniture products
that have a low environmental impact throughout their life cycle. [26]
According to Article 1, "the product group" furniture "shall consist of free
standing or built-in units whose primary function is to be used for the storage,
placing or hanging of items and / eat, study or work, whether for indoor or
outdoor use. The scope extends to domestic furniture and contract furniture items
for use in domestic or non-domestic environments. Bed frames, legs, bases, and
headboards are included in the scope. "
These items of furniture, in order to be organic certified, must meet unclear
requirements, some general requirements for hazardous substances and mixtures,
and others specific requirements to: wood, cork, bamboo and rattan, plastics,
metals, upholstery covering materials, upholstery padding materials, glass: use of
heavy metals. These include final product requirements and consumer
information.
An example of the requirements can be made with respect to coatings
(primers, varnishes, paints, putties, etc.) whose heavy metals, volatile organic
compounds, dangerous substances for human health have to be less than to non-
certified organic furniture products. To this is added the concentration of
formaldehyde contained in the soldering products necessary for the production of
wood-based panels.
Methods are also provided to verify the release of these substances into the air
when they come into contact with various liquids (water, coffee, alcohol) or with
heat sources. Regarding the release of formaldehyde from furniture products,
different standards for child furniture are provided for adult furniture. The
maximum allowable concentrations are related to room type, air volume and
ventilation type at 24 and 72 hours. Filling products (foam latex or polyurethane),
coating materials (tapestry, leather) are also checked.
Decision 176 of 2017 on the establishment of EU Ecolabel criteria for wood,
cork and bamboo-based floor coverings, similar to the previous decision, regulates
the requirements for: wood, cork and bamboo materials; the general requirements
for dangerous substances and mixtures; specific requirements for biocides, heavy
metals, plasticizers, flame retardants, etc.; VOC emissions from floors;
formaldehyde emissions from floor coverings and veneered sheet; guidelines on
the calculation of the amount of VOCs applied, etc. [27]
Directive 42 of 2004 on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic
compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain paints and varnishes and
130 CRISTINA MIHAELA SALCĂ ROTARU
vehicle refinishing products covers coatings for interior walls and ceilings; coatings
for exterior walls of mineral substrate; interior / exterior trim and cladding paints
for wood, metal or plastic; interior / exterior trim varnishes and woodstains;
primers; special function coatings; vehicle refinishing products. [28]
5. Conclusions and proposals
From the normative content of the three acts presented above, it is possible to
realize which are the most common sources of emission of the main pollutants of
indoor air. Unfortunately, there are notable differences between certified organic
products and uncertified products, which results in pollution differences. Thus, if
each individual product is at the upper limit of admissible pollutant concentrations
to be emitted, by concentrating them in a certain space, the maximum
concentrations even for atmospheric air can easily be exceeded.
Therefore, the remaining problem is to find the way to avoid this pollution or,
if it appears, to be alerted to the intervention. Reflecting the complexity of indoor
pollution, the most effective ways to reduce its impact are multi-component
interventions.
I believe that addressing through regulations on materials and products that
are predominantly in non-workplaces is a viable way to control indoor air
pollution. They should also provide for clear prohibitions on products intended for
children's recreation facilities and educational establishments. Furthermore, the
requirement for metering and alert devices should be regulated in these areas, at
least for those substances that can be considered as priority, such as formaldehyde.
In addition to product regulation, I believe that it is necessary to better inform
citizens about the need to maintain indoor air quality, the possible sources of
pollution and the possibility of personal intervention.
This short legislative research can be extended to the level of multidisciplinary
research to find concrete solutions to prevent indoor air pollution.
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Current issues within EU and EU member states legal framework 131
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132 CRISTINA MIHAELA SALCĂ ROTARU
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