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Research and innovation


Cluster for Methods for assessing health-related costs of environmental stressors

About this cluster

The Cluster for Methods for assessing health-related costs of environmental stressors (also known as METEOR) was launched in 2023 (with €20 million in EU funding) and is composed of 5 projects selected under call HORIZON-HLTH-2022-ENVHLTH-04-01 of Horizon Europe:

The cluster is expected to continue its activities until 2026. The projects are collaborating on researching the health impacts of environmental stressors such as different kinds of pollution, and their socioeconomic costs, providing a detailed analysis of how environment affects health and suggesting policy recommendations to protect our health and that of the planet.


Environmental stressors such as a life-long exposure to pollutants can lead to a variety of well-documented impacts on our physical and mental health, and in extreme cases death. This means that such stressors lead to unnecessary and preventable disease burden, and alongside it an economic cost that is currently difficult to determine.

Although data on the economic benefits of clean environments tends to be scarce, the data on the consequences of inaction is clear. In the EU, air pollution alone costs health and economic activities an estimated EUR 330 to 940 billion per year. There is also growing demand for goods and services of lower environmental impact, presenting a singular economic opportunity for cleaner and greener technologies.

Accordingly, in 2016, the European Commission unveiled the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR), an initiative to help ensure the even implementation of EU environmental law across its member states. The goal of the EIR is to fully realise the potential benefits of EU environmental law and, accordingly, to reduce preventable costs.

Additionally, the justification of effective pollution mitigation measures or new environmental protection laws requires that the health-related costs of environmental degradation are properly assessed and quantified. Methodologies such as Impact Pathway Analysis and Health Impact Assessment can be helpful in achieving this task, linking the available data and knowledge on environmental exposures with economics.

In 2024, the European Environment Agency published an updated brief on the costs to health and the environment from industrial air pollution in Europe which reported that the significant efforts in the EU to shift towards cleaner fuels and implement effective environmental and climate policies have resulted in a sharp drop in the external costs created by industrial air pollution (mostly in the energy sector).

As the Zero Pollution Action Plan indicates, there is a clear economic case for acting against pollution and the benefits of action far outweigh the costs, which themselves outweigh the cost of inaction.

Which EU priorities does this cluster contribute to?