Brussels to step up anti-pollution drive

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The Independent on Sunday's anti-asthma campaign has lead to a review of European pollution measures.

Margot Wallstrom, the European Environment commissioner, has told national ministers that she will carry out the review in the light of new revelations that pollution from cars can cause the disease. She will then bring forward proposals for intensifying Europe's drive to combat exhaust fumes.

The commissioner was responding to an extraordinary intervention by Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, at a meeting of his European colleagues last week in which he took up this newspaper's campaign and asked her to study further measures. He got wide backing from other ministers.

Ms Wallstrom is also inviting the authors of the Californian study which provided the first evidence that the pollution causes asthma, to visit Brussels next month.

Ozone, the pollutant the study blamed, can only be tackled on a European basis as it drifts from country to country.

Ms Wallstrom's spokeswoman said that the effect of pollution on children's health would be "right at the top of the commission's agenda over the next couple of years".

Mr Meacher said: "I was delighted the commissioner responded so warmly to my request she should examine the evidence and come forward with further proposals to reduce air pollution. This is extremely good new, a real commitment to action."