Emission of ozone precursors
Assessment made on 01 Jan 2001
ClassificationAir pollution (Primary theme)
Policy issue: Are we reaching emission targets for substances which create ground-level ozone?
- While emissions of 'ozone precursors' have fallen by 22% since 1990, 5th Envrionmental Action Programme targets for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides have not been met. Substantial reductions are needed to reach the targets set for 2010.
Ozone precursors such as non-methane VOCs, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and atmospheric methane help form ground level ozone. A few daysï¿½ exposure to high levels of ozone can trigger a range of health problems, particularly lung and allergy problems among the very young and very old. Long-term exposure to moderate levels may also lead to weaker lungs in young children, while plants can also be affected.
The 22% drop in ozone precursor emissions in the EU overall between 1990 and 1998 was mainly due to two factors: the widespread introduction of diesel and catalytic converters in road vehicles, and the implementation of the Solvents Directive by industry. This reduction was not evenly shared across Europe, however, with emissions actually increasing in Portugal and Greece.
Despite this fall, the 30% reductions called in the 5th Environmental Action Programme for in both non-methane VOCs and nitrous oxides over the 1990s were not reached. The 2010 proposec in the National Emissions Ceilings Directive will not be met without substantial progress.