Ozone levels last summer lowest in a decade
High concentrations of ozone in Europe were lower during the summer of 2007 than any other year in the past decade, according to the latest data unveiled by the European Environment Agency's technical report 'Air pollution by ozone across Europe during summer 2007'. In contrast to the same season in 2006, the threshold of 180 µg/m3 was not exceeded in northern Europe.
The highest one-hour ozone concentration of 479 µg/m3 was observed in Sicily, Italy, followed by 363 µg/m3 in Romania. France, Greece, Italy and Romania also reported high hourly ozone concentrations at least six times last summer.
Compared to the long-term objective of protecting human health (maximum ozone concentration of 120 µg/m3 over 8 hours), data for 2007 show that the thresholds set by the Directive 2002/3/EC were generally surpassed across Europe.
High concentrations of ozone in the air pose risks to health, by irritating breathing, reducing lung function and triggering asthma. Ground-level ozone is formed from pollutants emitted from vehicle exhausts and industrial production and is currently one of the air pollutants of most concern in Europe.
Note on the Directive 2002/3/EC:
This legislation relating to ozone in ambient air aims to
establish common methods and criteria for assessing concentrations of ozone in ambient air
set long-term objectives, target values for 2010, an alert threshold and an information threshold for concentrations of ozone in ambient air in the Community
ensure that adequate information is obtained on ambient levels of ozone and that it is made available to the public
maintain or improve ambient air quality
promote increased cooperation between the Member States in reducing ozone levels