In search of a common European approach to a healthy indoor environment

Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Jun;115(6):983-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8991. Epub 2007 Jan 25.


Increasingly, policymakers in Europe and around the world are realizing the importance of healthy indoor environments for public health. Certain member states of the European Union (EU) have already achieved successes in improving indoor environmental quality, such as controlling certain contaminants (e.g., environmental tobacco smoke) or developing nationwide policies that address indoor air generally. However, a common European approach to achieving healthy indoor environments is desirable for several reasons including providing a broader recognition of the problem of unhealthy indoor air, setting a policy example for all 27 EU member states, and achieving greater public health equity across the different European nations. In this article we address the question "Why is it so difficult in the EU to develop a coherent approach on indoor environment?" We identify and describe four main barriers: a) the subsidiarity principle in EU policymaking, introducing decentralization of decision making to the member states; b) fragmentation of the topic of the indoor environment; c) the differences in climate and governance among different member states that make a common policy difficult; and d) economic issues. We discuss potential lessons and recommendations from EU and U.S. successes in achieving healthier indoor environments through various policy mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor*
  • Climate
  • Environmental Health / economics
  • Environmental Health / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Europe
  • European Union
  • Government Regulation*
  • Housing / standards*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation