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Indicator Specification

Exceedance of air quality standards in Europe

Indicator Specification
  Indicator codes: CSI 004 , AIR 003
Created 04 Sep 2020 Published 06 Oct 2020 Last modified 06 Oct 2020
6 min read
Topics:
This indicator shows the fraction of the EU-28 urban population that is potentially exposed to ambient air concentrations of six key pollutants (PM 2.5 , PM 10 , O 3 , NO 2 , SO 2  and BaP) that are in excess of the  EU  limit or target values (EU, 2004, 2008) set for the protection of human health, and to concentrations of these pollutants in excess of the WHO Guidelines (WHO, 2000, 2006). The indicator is based on measurements of air pollutants as reported under the Air Quality Directives (EU, 2004, 2008) and the Decisions on the exchange of information (EU, 1997, 2011).

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
 

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

No related rationale has been specified.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

This indicator shows the fraction of the EU-28 urban population that is potentially exposed to ambient air concentrations of six key pollutants (PM2.5, PM10, O3, NO2, SO2 and BaP) that are in excess of the EU limit or target values (EU, 2004, 2008) set for the protection of human health, and to concentrations of these pollutants in excess of the WHO Guidelines (WHO, 2000, 2006).

The indicator is based on measurements of air pollutants as reported under the Air Quality Directives (EU, 2004, 2008) and the Decisions on the exchange of information (EU, 1997, 2011).

Units

Concentration:

  • micrograms (mg) of pollutant per cubic metre for PM2.5, PM10, O3, NO2 and SO2.
  • Nanograms (ng) of pollutant per cubic metre for BaP.

Urban population (POP): number of inhabitants in the 'core city' and, from 2016 on, 'greater city' of the Urban Audit cities represented by the urban stations taken into account in the calculations.

Percentage of the urban population.

 

Policy context and targets

Context description

No related policy context has been specified.

Targets

No related targets has been specified.

Related policy documents

  • A Clean Air Programme for Europe
    Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - "A Clean Air Programme for Europe", COM(2013) 918 final
  • Directive (EU) 2016/2284, reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants
    The directive is amending Directive 2003/35/EC (providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment) and repealing Directive 2001/81/EC. It entered into force at the end of 2016 and aims at compliance with the 2012 amended Gothenburg Protocol. In July 2017, the EU ratified the 2012 amendments to the 1999 protocol.
  • Directive 2008/50/EC, air quality
    Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.

Key policy question

Aggregated level assessment

Specific policy question

Disaggregated level assessment

 

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Information on cities is obtained from the Urban Audit (UA) data (Eurostat, 2014). UA data collection, maintained by Eurostat, provides information and comparable measurements on the different aspects of the quality of urban life in selected European cities. The urban population considered is the total number of people represented by any of the urban monitoring stations in the 'core city' and, from 2016, the 'greater city' of the UA cities taking part in the calculations.

Initially, stations in the EEA air-quality database are spatially joined with UA core and, from 2016, greater cities in a geographical information system in order to select those stations that fall within the boundaries of the cities included in the UA collection. The selected stations include station types classified as 'urban traffic', 'suburban traffic', 'urban background' and 'suburban background'. Stations classified as 'industrial' are influenced by other local emissions and such environments are generally not representative for residential areas. The industrial stations are therefore not selected for the indicator calculations.

According to a study for the European Commission by Entec UK Limited (EC, 2006), in Europe, on average, 5 % of the city population lives closer than 100 metres from major roads and is therefore potentially exposed to concentrations measured at traffic stations. The remaining 95 % of the city population is assumed to be exposed to urban and suburban background concentrations.

These percentages vary from country to country. To calculate them, national data on the population living closer than 100 metres from major roads have been taken from Appendix D (EC, 2006). These data have been divided by the total population figures for 2001 according to the Eurostat census (Eurostat, 2014a).

For Croatia, Malta and the United Kingdom there are no data on the 2001 population in that census, so the data in the publication (EC, 2007) have been used. Furthermore, for Cyprus and Malta there are no data for people living close to roads in (EC, 2006), so for them, and also for Turkey, the average value of 5 % was used.

For PM10, PM2.5, O3, NO2 and SO2, only stations with at least 75 % of valid data per calendar year are used. That is, in the case of daily values, those having more than 274 valid daily values per calendar year (or 275 days in a leap year). And in the case of hourly values, having more than 6 570 valid hourly values per calendar year (or 6 588 hours in a leap year). For BaP, the minimum data time coverage accepted is 14 % (51 days), according to the data quality objectives related to indicative measurements in the Directive 2004/107/EU (EU, 2004).

For every year, each city (i) in country (j), and every pollutant, the total number of urban or suburban traffic stations (nit) and the total number of urban or suburban background stations (nib) are obtained. Ptj % of the total population of the city (Popi) is proportionally assigned to each of the traffic stations and Pbj % of Popi is proportionally assigned to each of the background stations. So, every traffic station has an allocated population equal to ((Ptj / 100) * Popi / nit) and every background station has an allocated population equal to ((Pbj /100) *Popi / nib).

No gap filling is applied in the air quality data in the EEA air quality database.

For countries with no information on cities and/or population in the Urban Audit data collection (Lichtenstein and Turkey), population data have been retrieved from http://www.citypopulation.de/. The gap filled mapping was done using the “station_city” attribute found in the EEA air quality database (AirBase) and compared with the city names found at http://www.citypopulation.de/. The London geometry was derived from the URAU2007 data set in the first two assessment versions.

Methodology for gap filling

No related methodology for gap filling has been specified.

Methodology references

 

Data specifications

EEA data references

External data references

Data sources in latest figures

 

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

No related methodology uncertainty has been specified.

Data sets uncertainty

No related data sets uncertainty has been specified.

Rationale uncertainty

No related rationale uncertainty has been specified.

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Evrim Ozturk

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CSI 004
AIR 003
Specification
Version id: 4
Primary theme: Air pollution Air pollution

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year

Classification

DPSIR: State
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
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