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Sound and independent information
on the environment

Austria

Air pollution (Austria)

Why should we care about this issue

Topic
Air pollution Air pollution
more info
Environment Agency Austria
Organisation name
Environment Agency Austria
Reporting country
Austria
Organisation website
Organisation website
Contact link
Contact link
Last updated
21 Dec 2010
Content license
CC By 2.5
Content provider
Environment Agency Austria
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 21 Dec 2010 original

Figures

Atmospheric pollution has been one of the major initial drivers of environmental protection policies in Austria. For two decades since the late 1970s, forest decline linked to high sulphur emissions in central Europe and acid rain made the protection of the environment a topranked concern of both public opinion and national policies. As a consequence, sulphur dioxide emissions in Austria were reduced by more than 80%, more than in any other European country.

Since 1990, the main attention has switched to combating health and vegetation damage caused by tropospheric ozone. In recent years, the focus has turned to health risks related to exposure to particulate matter. PM10, NO2 and tropospheric ozone can be regarded as those widely encountered air pollutants that are on the one hand most relevant for human health and/or impact on ecosystems, on the other hand showing most exceedances of limit values and other thresholds. Furthermore, eutrophication caused by excess deposition of nitrogen has been identified as a threat to biodiversity.

 

Despite various successful measures to reduce emissions of air pollutants, exposure to air pollutants is still a considerable threat to human health, vegetation and ecosystems. It was estimated that exposure to particulate matter could reduce life expectancy up to one and a half years at the most polluted zones in Austria.

Links & References

The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 21 Dec 2010 original

Figures

Figure 3: Average annual mean NO2 concentration at Austrian urban and suburban monitoring sites (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)

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Figure 3: Average annual mean NO2 concentration at Austrian urban and suburban monitoring sites (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)
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Figure 9: Exceedance of empirical critical loads for eutrophying nitrogen CLnut(N) in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt 2008)

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Figure 9: Exceedance of empirical critical loads for eutrophying nitrogen CLnut(N) in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt 2008)
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Figure 8: Percentage of ecosystem area (EUNIS, European Nature Information System) in Austria in exceedance of the empirical critical load for eutrophying nitrogen.

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Figure 8: Percentage of ecosystem area (EUNIS, European Nature Information System) in Austria in exceedance of the empirical critical load for eutrophying nitrogen.
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Figure 6: AOT40 levels (May to July) from 1992 to 2008 in different areas in Austria and in mountainous regions (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)

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Figure 6: AOT40 levels (May to July) from 1992 to 2008 in different areas in Austria and in mountainous regions (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)
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Figure 7: Exceedance of critical loads for eutrophying nitrogen CLnut(N) in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt 2008)

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Figure 7: Exceedance of critical loads for eutrophying nitrogen CLnut(N) in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt 2008)
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Figure 1: Average annual mean PM10 concentration and average number of exceedances at Austrian urban and suburban monitoring sites (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)

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Figure 1: Average annual mean PM10 concentration and average number of exceedances at Austrian urban and suburban monitoring sites (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)
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Figure 2: Number of exceedances of the daily mean PM10 limit value at selected Austrian urban monitoring sites (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)

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Figure 2: Number of exceedances of the daily mean PM10 limit value at selected Austrian urban monitoring sites (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)
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Figure 4: Annual mean NO2 concentrations at selected Austrian urban and suburban monitoring sites (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces. Vienna urban background: Wien Belgradplatz; Vienna traffic: Wien Rinnboeckstrasse)

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Figure 4: Annual mean NO2 concentrations at selected Austrian urban and suburban monitoring sites (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces. Vienna urban background: Wien Belgradplatz; Vienna traffic: Wien Rinnboeckstrasse)
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Figure 5: Number of days showing exceedance of the target value for the protection of human health for different ozone zones and in mountainous regions in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)

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Data source
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Figure 5: Number of days showing exceedance of the target value for the protection of human health for different ozone zones and in mountainous regions in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt, Federal Provinces)
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PM10

 

Despite substantial progress in reducing emissions especially during the 1980s, in recent years the limit value for the daily mean of PM10 of Directive 2008/50/EC (50 g/m not to be exceeded more than 35 times per year) was exceeded in several provincial capitals and small towns. The only larger Austrian town with PM10 levels below the limit value in most years is Salzburg. The sources that are mainly responsible include road transport, residential heating using solid fuels, the industrial sector and the building industry, as well as agriculture in rural areas and, to some extent, longdistance transport.

 

Figure 1 shows the average concentration and number of exceedances of all urban and suburban monitoring sites in Austria from 2001 to 2008. Especially in 2007 and 2008 the levels were rather low. This was on the one hand due to favourable meteorological conditions, on the other hand a result of national and international abatement measures.

Figure 2 shows the number of exceedances of the daily mean limit value at selected highly polluted sites in urban areas. The city experiencing the highest levels is Graz, which is caused by rather unfavourable dispersion conditions in an alpine basin.

The limit value for the annual mean of nitrogen dioxide of Directive 2008/50/EC (40 g/m) is exceeded in Austria occasionally, especially close to roads with heavy traffic. The main source of NOx emissions in urban areas is traffic (see also Figure 13). Figure 3 shows the average annual mean concentrations of NO2 in urban and suburban monitoring sites from 1993 to 2008. Until the year 2000, NO2 levels were decreasing whereas in the years afterwards no statistical significant trend can be observed. In the year 2008, NO2 concentrations were on the same level as in the year 2000, despite a reduction of NOx emissions. At highly polluted sites, an increase in NO2 concentrations was also observed (Figure 4). This is caused by an increase in primary NO2 emissions due to exhaust aftertreatment systems of diesel passenger cars.

The target value for the protection of human health of Directive 2008/50/EC (120 μg/m not to be exceeded on more than 25 days per calendar year averaged over three years) was exceeded at 54% of all monitoring sites in Austria between 2006 and 2008.

 

No significant trend of the exceedances can be observed. Averaged over all monitoring sites, a decrease of 0.4 days per year was found between 1992 and 2008.

 

To reduce ozone levels, substantial reductions of emissions of the ozone precursor substances VOC and NOx are necessary in Austria as well as in other countries in central Europe. NOx emissions are currently above the NEC limits for 2010.

 

The target value for the protection of the vegetation (AOT401 of 18,000 g/(m.h)), averaged over five years) of Directive 2008/50/EG was exceeded at 60% of all monitoring sites in Austria between 2004 and 2008. The longterm objective for the protection of vegetation (AOT40 of 6,000 g/(m.h)) was exceeded at all stations save one, which is situated close to a highway due to NO titration.

 

(1 AOT40: means the sum of the difference between hourly concentrations greater than 80 g/m (= 40 parts per billion) and 80 g/m over a given period using only the onehour values measured between 8.00 and 20.00 Central European Time (CET) each day.)

 

No significant trend of the AOT40 levels since 1992 can be observed. Averaged over all monitoring sites, an increase of 200 g/(m.h) per year has been found.

Information about the current ozone levels

Acidification can lead to longterm damage in the structure and functioning of ecosystems. To estimate the ecosystem area at risk, the Critical Loads concept was developed within the UNECE Convention on Longrange Transboundary Air Pollution. Critical Loads for acidification are projected to be exceeded at four out of 496 sites in 2010. This corresponds to about 0.6% of the overall modelled forest ecosystems. All exceedances occur in the northern part of Austria ("Bhmische Masse" which is characterised by a low buffering capacity of acidifying substances). The exceedances are caused by both sulphur and nitrogen deposition (Umweltbundesamt 2008).

Critical Loads: A quantitative estimate of an exposure to one or more pollutants below which significant harmful effects on specified sensitive elements of the environment do not occur according to present knowledge' (Nilsson and Grennfelt 1988).

Deposition of nitrogen can lead to eutrophication which changes the biodiversity of an ecosystem. Critical Loads for eutrophying nitrogen deposition are projected to be exceeded at about 94% of the forest area. The highest exceedances occur north of the Alps and in the eastern part of Austria, reflecting high nitrogen deposition in these areas (Figure 7).

For seminatural vegetation, Critical Loads are based on expert estimates. These empirical Critical Loads for eutrophying nitrogen for seminatural vegetation are exceeded at 31% of the ecosystem area. The percentage of exceedance per ecosystem is shown in Figure 8. Figure 9 shows the exceedance of empirical critical loads.

Information about the current number of exceedances of air quality limit values and thresholds 

 

Daily report on air quality  

Links & References

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 21 Dec 2010 original

Figures

Figure 13: NOx emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (based on fuel consumed calculations) (Umweltbundesamt 2009a. Industry comprises CRF source categories 1A2 and CRF 2)

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Figure 13: NOx emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (based on fuel consumed calculations) (Umweltbundesamt 2009a. Industry comprises CRF source categories 1A2 and CRF 2)
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Figure 15: SO2 emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (based on fuel consumed calculations) (Umweltbundesamt 2009a)

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Figure 15: SO2 emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (based on fuel consumed calculations) (Umweltbundesamt 2009a)
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Figure 10: Development of passenger transport from 1990 to 2007 in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt, compiled)

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Figure 10: Development of passenger transport from 1990 to 2007 in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt, compiled)
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Figure 17: NH3 emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (based on fuel consumed calculations) (Umweltbundesamt 2009a)

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Figure 17: NH3 emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (based on fuel consumed calculations) (Umweltbundesamt 2009a)
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Figure 16: NMVOC emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (other: mainly solvent and other product use. Based on fuel consumed calculations) (Umweltbundesamt 2009a)

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Figure 16: NMVOC emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (other: mainly solvent and other product use. Based on fuel consumed calculations) (Umweltbundesamt 2009a)
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Figure 14: PM10 emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (based on fuel sold, Umweltbundesamt 2009a)

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Figure 14: PM10 emissions in Austria 1990 to 2007 (based on fuel sold, Umweltbundesamt 2009a)
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Figure 12: Relative changes of gross domestic energy consumption, gross domestic energy consumption of fossil energy sources and gross domestic product in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt 2009)

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Figure 12: Relative changes of gross domestic energy consumption, gross domestic energy consumption of fossil energy sources and gross domestic product in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt 2009)
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Figure 11: Development of freight transport from 1990 to 2007 in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt, compiled)

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Figure 11: Development of freight transport from 1990 to 2007 in Austria (source: Umweltbundesamt, compiled)
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A major driver for the emission of air pollutants, especially for NOx, PM10 and NMVOC is traffic, and to some extent also energy production (see also Figure 12). Since the late 1990s, passenger transport vehicle kilometres of private cars and aviation have shown a strong increase (Figure 10). Freight transport has shown an even more pronounced increase (Figure 11). Since 1990, freight transport (in tonnes kilometres) has tripled. The increase in passenger and freight transport has partly compensated the effect of emission reduction measures.

Energy consumption increased considerably between 1990 and 2007 in line with the increase in GDP. The decrease from 2006 to 2007 was caused by relatively high temperatures in 2007 (leading to a reduced demand for heat production during winter).

 

Trend in emissions 19902007

 

NOx emissions were reduced from about 179 kt in 1990 to 163 kt in 2007 (Figure 13). However, emissions are still well above the emission ceiling according to Directive 2001/81/EC of 103 kt.

 

PM10 emissions have slightly increased from about 42 kt in 1990 to 43 kt in 2007 (Figure 14).

SO2 emissions were reduced from about 74 kt in 1990 to 26 kt in 2007 (Figure 15). Emissions are well below the emission ceiling according to Directive 2001/81/EC of 39 kt.

NMVOC emissions were reduced from about 273 kt in 1990 to 176 kt in 2007 (Figure 16). Emissions are still above the emission ceiling according to Directive 2001/81/EC of 159 kt.

NH3 emissions have been reduced from about 71 kt in 1990 to 66 kt in 2007 (Figure 17). Emissions are exactly at the emission ceiling according to Directive 2001/81/EC of 66 kt.

Links & References

The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 21 Dec 2010 original

Figures

Figure 18: Projections for average daily traffic (top), NOx emissions (middle), and emissions and concentrations of NO2 (bottom) without additional measures at the A13 highway in Tyrol (Umweltbundesamt 2008b)

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Figure 18: Projections for average daily traffic (top), NOx emissions (middle), and emissions and concentrations of NO2 (bottom) without additional measures at the A13 highway in Tyrol (Umweltbundesamt 2008b)
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Projections of NOx and NO2 levels without additional measures at selected sections of highways have been modelled up to 2020 (Umweltbundesamt 2008b). Due to primary NO2 emissions caused by diesel vehicle aftertreatment systems, NO2 levels will remain as they have been in recent years until 2013. From then on a decrease can be expected despite an increase in traffic volume.

Links & References

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 21 Dec 2010 original

Due to exceedances of air quality limit values, especially of PM10 and NO2 in recent years, abatement measures have been introduced at local, regional and national levels. These measures can be regarded as additional measures on top of activities that have been in place for many years. The majority of measures address traffic, residential heating and industry and aim at compliance with the limit values after the extended deadline according to Directive 2008/50/EC.

A few examples for measures taken are:

  • Sectoral ban of specific goods transport by lorries at the Inntal highway A12
  • Dynamic speed limits for passenger cars at highways dependent on pollutant levels
  • Subsidies for retrofitting of diesel particle filters for passenger cars and construction machinery
  • Transport of construction material via rail
  • Extension of tramway and regional railway lines
  • Subsidies of up to 100% for exchange of old heating systems
  • BAT (best available techniques) requirement for installations
  • Measures to reduce heating demand in the building sector by linking subsidies to certain energetic performances

For PM10, the Commission raised no objections against a time extension until 20 June 2011 to comply with the PM10 limit value for several zones in Austria, acknowledging inter alia that some zones are severely affected by transboundary air pollution and that measures have been implemented. Nevertheless, additional measures are planned, and a revision of the Austrian Air Quality Act is due in mid 2010.

 

Additional measures will be needed to attain the national emission ceiling for NOx. The most significant source of NOx in Austria is diesel vehicles. EU legislation for mobile sources (EURO Standards) has failed to deliver significant reductions in NOx emissions for diesel vehicles. Therefore, national measures to increase efficiency of road traffic are currently being discussed, including efforts to boost mobility with electric traction and an increase in fuel taxation.

 

In the industrial sector, there are, for example, pilot projects to install selective catalytic converters (SCR) in the cement industry. In addition, farreaching emission reduction technologies have been installed in Austrias main crude oil refinery.

 

In the residential sector, it is planned, for example, to enhance efforts to increase the thermal insulation of existing buildings. This will lower the specific energy demand for heating and cooling. In addition, the use of district heating is also promoted.

 

Links to air quality plans and strategies set by the responsible authorities

Links & References

Disclaimer

The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
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Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100