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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / EEA32 Persistent organic pollutant (POP) emissions / EEA32 Persistent organic pollutant (POP) emissions (APE 006) - Assessment published Feb 2010

EEA32 Persistent organic pollutant (POP) emissions (APE 006) - Assessment published Feb 2010

Generic metadata

Topics:

Air pollution Air pollution (Primary topic)

Chemicals Chemicals

Industry Industry

Tags:
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons | pops | air pollution indicators | air emissions | pah | persistent organic pollutants | pollution
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • APE 006
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2007
Geographic coverage:
Austria Belgium Bulgaria Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: What progress is being made in reducing emissions of persistent organic pollutants?

Key messages

  • EEA-32 emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), an important group of chemicals categorised as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), have decreased by 63% between 1990 and 2007. While the majority of individual countries report PAH emissions have fallen during this period, eight countries report increased emissions have occurred.
  • Important emission sources of PAH, include residential combustion processes (open fires, coal and wood burning for heating purposes etc), industrial metal production processes, and the road transport sector. Emissions from these sources have all declined since 1990 as a result of decreased residential use of coal, improvements in abatement technologies for metal refining and smelting, and stricter regulations on emissions from the road transport sector.
  • In 2007, the most significant source of PAHs was the 'other energy' sector accounting for 41% of total PAH emissions. This sector comprises emissions caused by fuel combustion mainly from the residential, commercial and institutional buildings sectors.
  • Environmental context: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances that persist in the environment, have potential to bioaccumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. This group of substances includes unintentional by-products of industrial processes (such as PAHs, dioxins and furans) pesticides (such as DDT), and industrial chemicals (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs). All share the property of being progressively accumulated higher up the food chain, such that chronic exposure of lower organisms to much lower concentrations can expose predatory organisms, including humans and wildlife, to potentially harmful concentrations. In humans they are also of concern for human health because of their toxicity, their potential to cause cancer and their ability to cause harmful effects at low concentrations. Their relative toxic/carcinogenic potencies are compound specific. POPs have also been shown to possess a number of toxicological properties. The major concern is often centred on their possible role in carcinogenic, immunological and reproductive effects but more recently concern has also been expressed over their possible harmful effects on human development.

Change (%) in PAH emissions 1990-2007 (EEA member countries)

Note: Change in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Data source:

EEA aggregated and gap-filled air emission dataset, based on 2009 officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE LRTAP Convention.

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

In the EEA-32 region, emissions of PAHs have fallen by 63% between 1990 and 2007 (Figure 1). A combination of targeted legislation (for details see Indicator specification - policy context) coupled with improved controls and abatement techniques has led in general to significant progress being made in most countries to reduce PAH emissions (Figure 2).

While the majority of individual countries report PAH emissions have decreased since 1990, there are eight countries (Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Portugal, Latvia, Italy, Iceland and Sweden) in which increased emissions have occurred. Of these countries, the largest increase in emissions is reported by Denmark. One cause of the increased emissions in Denmark has been due to the introduction of policy measures that have encouraged the burning of renewable materials (e.g. wood) by Danish households. Wood-burning also produces PAHs, and hence in this instance policies that have been implemented to address one environmental issue (climate change) have had unintended consequences in terms of air pollution.  In absolute terms however, emissions of PAHs from Denmark are relatively low compared to other countries. Of the EEA-32 group of countries, the largest PAH emissions are reported by The Netherlands, Spain and Belgium, where emissions are more than 10 times greater than in Denmark.

Specific policy question: How do different sectors and processes contribute to emissions of persistent organic pollutants?

Sector share of PAH emissions (EEA member countries)

Note: Sector share of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Data source:

EEA aggregated and gap-filled air emission dataset, based on 2009 officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE LRTAP Convention.

Downloads and more info

Change in PAH emissions for each sector between 1990 and 2007 (EEA member countries)

Note: Change in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emissions for each sector

Data source:

EEA aggregated and gap-filled air emission dataset, based on 2009 officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE LRTAP Convention.

Downloads and more info

Contribution to total change in PAH emissions for each sector between 1990 and 2007 (EEA member countries)

Note: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emissions

Data source:

EEA aggregated and gap-filled air emission dataset, based on 2009 officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE LRTAP Convention.

Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

Important emission sources of PAH typically include residential combustion processes (open fires, coal and wood burning for heating purposes etc), industrial metal production processes, and the road transport sector (Figure 3).

Emissions from each of these sources have declined since 1990 as a result of decreased residential use of coal, improvements in abatement technologies for metal refining and smelting, and stricter regulations on emissions from the road transport sector (Figure 4). In particular, the majority of the PAH emission reduction observed in Europe since 1990 has been due to reduced emissions from within the industrial processes sector (Figure 5). This reflects various initiatives designed to reduce the formation and emission of (unintended) POPs through improved process design, control and pollution abatement technology. 

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Martin Adams

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100