1. Introduction

Page Last modified 20 Apr 2016, 02:33 PM

1. Introduction

1.1. Goal and Scope of the Project

Project MA 1 of the Multiannual Work Programme 1994-1999 of the European Environment Agency entitled "Air Quality, General Approach to Assessment", consists of the following three sub projects:

MA 1-1 Collection of information on requirements for monitoring information.

MA 1-2 Report on the state of the (monitoring) situation - problems and trends.

MA 1-3 Report on recommendation for approach to be adopted at the European level.

The present report regards MA 1-2. The main goal of the report is to present a summary of the situation regarding air pollution monitoring in Europe, based on an inventory of current monitoring practices. This summary is the basis for the discussion in this report and in the MA 1-3 report on current problems (shortcomings, etc.) and current trends regarding monitoring.

The scope of the work can be summarised as follows:

  • To inventorize current monitoring practices in EU Member States and other European countries, using the GIRAFE/APIS data base, reports and additional information from questionnaires.

  • To inventorize current European scale air pollution networks (EMEP, WHO-GAW, WHO/UNEP-GEMS, OSPAR/HELCOM/MEDPOL) and research networks such as EUROTRAC and AMAP.

  • To inventorize the availability of complementary information needed for assessment and regulation, such as emission data and modelling, and signal gaps.

The geographical coverage should be in principle pan-European. The report covers monitoring practices in EU member states, European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein) and other countries, with a boundary towards the east which follows the Ural mountain chain.

1.2. Information Sources

The basic sources of data and information used in the work on this project includes:


  • Returned questionnaires, sent out to all the countries during February 1995 (with a later reminder). The design of the questionnaire was partly based upon a similar questionnaire sent out previously by WABOLU in Berlin, the WHO collaborating centre for air quality management and air pollution control. A copy of the questionnaire is given in Appendix C.

    The questionnaire was returned by the following 20 countries: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russian Federation (the MA1-1 part), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

    Some countries responded to the questionnaire by sending reports or data tables/diskettes. This was done by Austria, Estonia, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Portugal.

  • Copies of the WHO questionnaire were kindly made available to us by WABOLU for the following 5 countries: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia.

    WABOLU in September 1995 published the results from its survey of air monitoring networks (Mücke and Turowski, 1995). The report contains information from the following 11 countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, United Kingdom. For these countries, in addition to tables similar to those presented in Appendix B of this report, their report contain maps with locations of the monitoring sites.

    No specific information was available from Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. These countries are not included in any of the summary tables.

  • National reports on networks and air quality data obtained through the questionnaire procedure, during the Europe’s Environment report work in 1992-93, and otherwise.

  • The current APIS/GIRAFE data bases.

  • Reports and overviews from the European monitoring networks (EMEP etc.)

  • The MA1-1 report (van Aalst et al., 1995).

In Appendix D, the available sources of information are listed per country.

For European-scale air pollution networks, information was found in annual and other reports from those networks, as listed in the reference list.


1.3. Methodology of inventorizing current monitoring practices

"Monitoring practices" is defined as the way air pollution monitoring is carried out in terms of compounds measured, methods used, site representativity, spatial and temporal coverage of stations and networks, availability of the data, and how data are reported.

To be able to report on "the state of the monitoring situation - problems and trends", it is advantageous to have a yardstick against which to evaluate the monitoring activities going on in each country, in the EU, and for Europe as a whole. Such a yardstick should be sufficiently comprehensive so that a monitoring programme which complies with the requirements will form a basis for:

  • assessing and mapping the zones with unacceptable air quality

  • evaluating the effects of the air pollution

  • quantifying or estimating the contributions to the air pollution concentrations from the various source categories of the area, as a background for formulating Action Plans.

The air pollution Directives of the EU may be considered to form a "basic yardstick". On top of that, it is of interest to see what the bulk of European countries actually do in their monitoring networks, and use that as a "developed yardstick" for monitoring in Europe against which to evaluate each country. The requirements to monitoring and reporting which are set in the Directives, are described in Chapter 2.

With a view to the monitoring requirements as set in the Directives, monitoring practice is in this report defined according to the following items:


Compound coverage Does the network(s) cover all effects - relevant compounds in the area?


Spatial coverage Does the network(s) cover the areas of high and typical air pollution exposure of the population?


Monitoring site category
Does the network(s) spatially cover the relevant site categories?
  • urban general (urban background)
  • traffic hot-spot
  • industrial hot-spot (urban/rural)
  • regional background/rural


Temporal coverage Does the network(s) cover all relevant periods of elevated and typical pollution levels?


Methods evaluation Are the methods used:
  • advanced
  • complying with EU standards or other requirements
  • non-standard?


Data availability Are the data available to users on-line (near real time) or otherwise?


Reporting Are the data and their statistics reported regularly (when) and in compliance with regulations?


Network/site description Is this available in a report?


Additional requirements to air pollution monitoring are set in some of the international conventions, notably the UN-ECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution and others, which are described in Chapter 2.

As described in the draft MA1-1 report, monitoring may serve several purposes and functions, listed as:

  • Regulatory: Monitoring to fulfil legal or regulatory obligations
  • Compliance: Monitoring to check compliance with goals formulated in conventions and other agreements
  • Policy support: Monitoring to provide information/ assessments to support policy development
  • Impact assessment: Monitoring as part of assessment of impacts (on health, materials, ecosystems)
  • Public information and alert: Monitoring as basis for factual "on-line" info to the public, and basis for warnings
  • Scientific research: Monitoring to investigate processes and new scientific questions, verification of models, etc.

One of the questions of the questionnaire regarded the definition of the main purposes of each of the networks of the country. The function or purpose underlying the networks is also a part of the criteria against which the monitoring practice can be evaluated. This has been summarised in the MA 1-1 report (van Aalst et al., 1995).


1.4. The contents of this report

The information on air pollution monitoring networks is presented at several levels of condensation:


  • The information in the questionnaire and the available national reports collected is used to produce country-wise network summary tables (Appendix B). In these tables, the various networks are presented in terms of:

    • Network description:

  • Name

  • Level of network (national, regional, local)

  • Purpose/function

  • Representativity scale of sites (urban, hot-spot, regional)

  • Monitoring:

  • No. of sites of each category

  • Compounds

  • Temporal coverage

  • Methods/quality control

  • Data reporting:

  • Data availability

  • Report availability

Based on the tables in Appendix B and additional information, country summaries (3-5 pages plus selected annexes) are presented in Appendix A. The country summaries contain the following items:

  1. National monitoring requirements

  2. Approach to air quality (AQ) monitoring and assessment

  3. Monitoring coverage

  4. Methods evaluation

  5. Data availability

  6. Reporting

  7. Application of monitoring results (purpose/function of monitoring)

  8. Near-future developments of networks.

  9. Responsible agencies

The country summaries have been written by the Topic Centre team, except for the Portugal report, which was provided by the Portuguese responsible institution. Draft summaries were sent to the National Reference Centres for comments and completion, and detailed comments were received from some countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Portugal, Sweden). For some countries the information which was made available under this project is not complete. Thus it is acknowledged that the country summaries for some of the countries do not present a complete picture of the AQ monitoring.

  • The third level of condensation is covered in Chapter 3, which contains tables on local (urban and hot-spot) and regional air pollution monitoring respectively. In these tables, there is basically one line for each country. The columns of these tables conform with the 8 items listed in Section 1.3 defining "monitoring practice".

  • In Chapter 3 a short summary text description of the monitoring practice is then attempted for each country with a view to shortcomings as evaluated against the requirements of the EU Directives.

  • Finally, in Chapter 4 a summary is given of the monitoring situation on the European scale, its problems and trends, as stated in the terms of reference of the project.

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