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Glossary

EE-AoA Glossary

Glossary
A
Air emission - Discharge of pollutants into the atmosphere from stationary sources such as smokestacks, and other vents, and from surface areas of commercial or industrial facilities and mobile sources, for example, motor vehicles, locomotives and aircrafts.
Air quality measurement station - Facility to measure systematically concentrations of pollutants in ambient air. Synonym: air quality monitoring station.
Air quality monitoring station - Facility to measure systematically concentrations of pollutants in ambient air. Synonym: Air quality measurement station.
Alert threshold - The EU has defined an Alert threshold of 240 µg ozone per m3 air. Any exceedance of this threshold should be reported by the Member State in which it occurs to the European Commission. The threshold reflects a 'level beyond which there is a risk to human health from brief exposure for the general population'. When the threshold is exceeded, national authorities are required to inform the public and give advice. See also Information threshold.
Ambient air - The air occurring at a particular time and place outside of structures. Often used interchangeably with "outdoor air".
Anthropogenic processes - Anthropogenic effects, processes, objects, or materials are those that are derived from human activities, as opposed to those occurring in natural environments without human influences. The term is often used in the context of environmental externalities in the form of chemical or biological wastes that are produced as by-products of otherwise purposeful human activities. For instance, it is widely believed that the production of carbon dioxide is the primary factor driving anthropogenic climate change. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropogenic
Aquaculture - Aquaculture is the cultivation of the natural produce of water (fish, shellfish, algae and other aquatic organisms). Also known as aquafarming, the term is distinguished from fishing by the idea of active human effort in maintaining or increasing the number of organisms involved, as opposed to simply taking them from the wild. Subsets of aquaculture include Mariculture (aquaculture in the ocean); Algaculture (the production of kelp/seaweed and other algae); Fish farming (the raising of catfish, tilapia and milkfish in freshwater And Brackish ponds or salmon in marine ponds); and the growing of cultured pearls. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaculture
Aquifer - 1) Aquifer means a subsurface layer or layers of rock or other geological strata of sufficient porosity and permeability to allow either a significant flow of groundwater or the abstraction of significant quantities of groundwater. 2) Layers of rock, sand or gravel that can absorb water and allow it to flow. An aquifer acts as a groundwater reservoir when the underlying rock is impermeable. This may be tapped by wells for domestic, agricultural or industrial use. A serious environmental problem arises when the aquifer is contaminated by the seepage of sewage or toxins from waste dumps. If the groundwater in coastal areas is over-used salt water can seep into the aquifer. Source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/A/aquifer
Atmospheric deposition - The transfer of substances in air to surfaces, including soil, vegetation, surface water, or indoor surfaces, by dry or wet processes. (S. L. Brown) Source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/D/deposition
B
Biodiversity level - The term biodiversity describes the variety of life on our planet or a specific region, measurable as the variety within species, between species, and the variety of ecosystems. Source: http://www.naturewatch.ca/english/plantwatch/dandelion/glossary.html
Brackish water - Brackish water is water that is saltier than fresh water, but not as salty as seawater. It may result from mixing of seawater with fresh water, as in estuaries, but also certain human activities can produce brackish water, in particular certain civil engineering projects such as dikes and the flooding of coastal marshland. Because brackish water is hostile to the growth of most terrestrial plant species, without appropriate management it is damaging to the environment. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brackish
C
CO - Abbreviation for carbon monoxide. Colourless, odourless, tasteless, non-corrosive, highly poisonous gas of about the same density as that of air. Very flammable, burning in air with bright blue flame. Although each molecule of CO has one carbon atom and one oxygen atom, it has a shape similar to that of an oxygen molecule (two atoms of oxygen), which is important with regard to its lethality. (Source: PHYMAC)
CO2 - Abbreviation for carbon dioxide: gas naturally produced by animals during respiration and through decay of biomass, and used by plants during photosynthesis. Although it only constitutes 0.04 percent of the atmosphere, it is one of the most important greenhouse gases. The combustion of fossil fuels is increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, which is believed to be contributing to global warming.
Carbon dioxide - Gas naturally produced by animals during respiration and through decay of biomass, and used by plants during photosynthesis. Although it only constitutes 0.04 percent of the atmosphere, it is one of the most important greenhouse gases. The combustion of fossil fuels is increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, which is believed to be contributing to global warming.
Carbon monoxide - Colourless, odourless, tasteless, non-corrosive, highly poisonous gas of about the same density as that of air. Very flammable, burning in air with bright blue flame. Although each molecule of CO has one carbon atom and one oxygen atom, it has a shape similar to that of an oxygen molecule (two atoms of oxygen), which is important with regard to its lethality. (Source: PHYMAC)
Catchment area - 1) An area from which surface runoff is carried away by a single drainage system. 2) The area of land bounded by watersheds draining into a river, basin or reservoir. Source: http://epaedia.eea.europa.eu/alphabetical.php?letter=C&gid=237
D
Diffuse pollution - Pollution from widespread activities with no one discrete source, e.g. acid rain, pesticides, urban run-off, etc. Source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/D/diffuse_pollution
Direct point source - A stationary location or fixed facility from which pollutants are discharged; any single identifiable source of pollution; e.g. a pipe, ditch, ship, ore pit, factory smokestack. Source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/P/point_source
Downstream reaches - A reach is an expanse, or widening, of a stream or river channel. This commonly occurs after the river or stream is dammed.
E
Eutrophication - A process of pollution that occurs when a lake or stream becomes over-rich in plant nutrient; as a consequence it becomes overgrown in algae and other aquatic plants. The plants die and decompose. In decomposing the plants rob the water of oxygen and the lake, river or stream becomes lifeless. Nitrate fertilizers which drain from the fields, nutrients from animal wastes and human sewage are the primary causes of eutrophication. Source: http://www.eionet.europa.eu/gemet/concept?cp=3007&langcode=en
Exceedance - An event (characterised by duration and degree of exceedance) where the concentration of a pollutant is greater than, or equal to, the appropriate air quality standard.
F
faecal microbes - Bacteria contained in human and animal faeces. Source: http://www.eionet.europa.eu/gemet/gemet-definitions.html
G
Ground-level concentration - The concentration in air of a pollutant to which a human being is normally exposed, i.e. between the ground and a height of some 2 metres above it.
Ground-level ozone - The ozone in the air near the Earth's surface. Also known as ambient or tropospheric ozone. See also ozone, troposphere and ambient air.
Groundwater abstraction - Groundwater abstraction is the process of taking water from a ground source, either temporarily or permanently. Most water is used for irrigation or treatment to produce drinking water. Depending on the environmental legislation in the relevant country, controls may be placed on abstraction to limit the amount of water that can be removed. Over abstraction can lead to rivers drying up or the level of groundwater aquifers reducing unacceptably. The science of hydrogeology is used to assess safe abstraction levels. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_abstraction
H
Hydrocarbons - Hydrocarbons are referred to as consisting of a "backbone" or "skeleton" composed entirely of carbon and hydrogen and other bonded compounds, and lack a functional group that generally facilitates combustion without adverse effects. The majority of hydrocarbons found naturally occur in crude oil, where decomposed organic matter provides an abundance of carbon and hydrogen which, when bonded can catenate to form seemingly limitless chains. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrocarbons
Hydrological cycle - The water cycle — technically known as the hydrological cycle — is the continuous circulation of water within the Earth's hydrosphere, and is driven by solar radiation. This includes the atmosphere, land, surface water and groundwater. As water moves through the cycle, it changes state between liquid, solid, and gas phases. Water moves from compartment to compartment, such as from river to ocean, by the physical processes of evaporation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff, and subsurface flow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrological_cycle
I
Impervious - Impervious surfaces seal the soil surface, eliminating rainwater infiltration and natural groundwater recharge. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impervious_Surfaces
Inflammation - The response of the immune system to irritation or injury of body tissues. Signs and symptoms are pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function. For instance, lung inflammation can lead to reduced lung function.
Information threshold - The EU has defined an Information threshold of 180 µg ozone per m3 air. Any exceedance of this threshold should be reported by the Member State in which it occurs to the European Commission. The threshold reflects a 'level beyond which there is a risk to human health from brief exposure for particularly sensitive sections of the population'. When the threshold is exceeded, national authorities are required to inform the public. See also Alert threshold.
Interpolation - A mathematical method of constructing new data points from a discrete set of known data points. When a number of data points has been obtained - by sampling or experiment - one can construct a calculation (interpolation) that closely fits these data points.
Intrusion of saltwater - Saltwater intrusion is a natural process that occurs in virtually all coastal aquifers. It consists in salt water (from the sea) flowing inland in freshwater aquifers. This behavior is caused by the fact that sea water has a higher density (which is because it carries more solutes) than freshwater. This higher density has the effect that the pressure beneath a column of saltwater is larger than that beneath a column of the same height of freshwater. If these columns were connected at the bottom, then the pressure difference would trigger a flow from the saltwater column to the freshwater column. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltwater_intrusion
L
Lake basin - A basin is a natural depression in the surface of the land. A lake basin is a geographic land area draining into a lake; also referred to as drainage basin or watershed. Source: EEA
Large basin management - A large basin is a natural or artificially created pond, lake or other space used for storage, regulation or control of water. Source: http://www.floodplain.org/glossary_of_terms.htm
Life-expectancy - The number of years that a person can expect to live on average, based on estimation of data on death rates of the population. Life expectancy depends on age. For example, at birth a person may be expected to live for 75 years, but if the person survives to 75, he or she may be expected to live for another 10 years.
Life-year - One year of a non-specified person's life. Can be used to describe loss of life expectancy. For example, 'thousands of life-years are lost annually in Europe as a result of air pollution'
Lung capacity - The volume of air the lungs can hold. Lung capacity depends on a person's age, weight, sex and the degree of physical activity. The total lung capacity of an average-sized adult male is about five litres.
Lung function - The main function of the lungs is the process of gas exchange called respiration (or breathing). In respiration, oxygen from incoming air enters the blood, and carbon dioxide, a waste gas from the metabolism, leaves the blood. A reduced lung function means that the ability of lungs to exchange gases is reduced.
M
Microbial pathogens - Any disease-producing agent or microorganism Source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/P/pathogen
Mortality - The death rate; the ratio of the number of deaths per year to a given population.
N
NMVOCs - Abbreviation for Non-methane volatile organic compounds. Organic chemical compounds, excluding methane, that under normal conditions can vaporise and enter the atmosphere. NMVOCs include such compounds as benzene, xylene, propane and butane. NMVOCs are mainly emitted from transportation, industrial processes and use of organic solvents. See also VOCs.
Nitrogen oxides - Nitrogen oxides refers to nitric oxide gas (NO) and nitrogen dioxide gas (NO2) and many other gaseous oxides containing nitrogen. The main source of these gases in urban areas are motor vehicle exhaust and indoor gas stoves and kerosene heaters. The brown haze sometimes seen over cities is mainly nitrogen oxides. These gases are also partly responsible for the generation of ozone, which is produced when nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals in the presence of sunlight. Exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide can interfere with the ability of blood to carry oxygen, leading to dizziness and shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure can lead to respiratory failure.
Non-methane volatile organic compounds - Organic chemical compounds, excluding methane, that under normal conditions can vaporise and enter the atmosphere. NMVOCs include such compounds as benzene, xylene, propane and butane. NMVOCs are mainly emitted from transportation, industrial processes and use of organic solvents. See also VOCs.
Nutrients - Nutrients are chemical elements which are involved in the construction of living tissue and which are needed by both plant and animal. The most important in terms of bulk are carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, with other essential ones including nitrogen, potassium, calcium, sulphur and phosphorus. Source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/N/nutrient
O
Ozone - Ozone, the triatomic form of oxygen (O3), is a gaseous atmospheric constituent. In the troposphere - at ground level - it is created both naturally and by photochemical reactions involving gases resulting from human activities (photochemical smog). In high concentrations, tropospheric ozone can be harmful to a wide range of living organisms. In the stratosphere, ozone is created by the interaction between solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation and molecular oxygen (O2). Stratospheric ozone plays a decisive role in protecting life on earth from ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Ozone episode - A period of usually a few days up to 2-3 weeks with high ozone concentrations, characterised by daily exceedances of the thresholds set to protect human health. Ozone episodes occur under specific meteorological conditions characterised by large stagnant areas of high pressure. Since the formation of ozone requires sunlight, ozone episodes mainly occur during summer.
Ozone layer - Very diluted atmospheric concentration of ozone found at an altitude of 10 to 50 kilometres above the earth's surface.
Ozone layer depletion - The fragile shield of ozone is being damaged by chemicals released on earth. The main chemicals that are depleting stratospheric ozone are chlorofluorocarbons which are used in refrigerators, aerosols, and as cleaners in many industries, and halons, which are used in fire extinguishers. The damage is caused when these chemicals release highly reactive forms of chlorine and bromine. Over the past 30 years ozone levels over parts of Antarctica have dropped by almost 40 % during some months and a 'hole' in ozone concentrations is clearly visible in satellite observations.
Ozone precursor - Chemical compounds, such as carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), NMVOCs and nitrogen oxide (NOx), which in the presence of solar radiation react with other chemical compounds to form ozone, mainly in the troposphere.
P
PM - Abbreviation for Particulate Matter. A collective name for fine solid or liquid particles added to the atmosphere by processes at the earth's surface. Particulate matter includes dust, smoke, soot, pollen and soil particles.
PM10 - An air pollutant consisting of small particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than or equal to a nominal 10 micrometer (about 1/7 the diameter of a single human hair). Their small size allows them to make their way to the air passages deep within the lungs where they may be deposited and result in adverse health effects. PM10 also causes visibility reduction.
Particulate matter - A collective name for fine solid or liquid particles added to the atmosphere by processes at the earth's surface. Particulate matter includes dust, smoke, soot, pollen and soil particles.
Percolation - In chemistry and materials science, percolation concerns the movement and filtering of fluids through porous materials. During the last three decades, percolation theory, an extensive mathematical model of percolation, has brought new understanding and techniques to a broad range of topics in physics and materials science Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percolate
Photochemical smog - A combination of fog and chemicals that come from automobile and factory emissions and is acted upon by the action of the sun. Nitrogen dioxide, in the presence of the sun and some hydrocarbons, is turned into nitric oxide and atomic oxygen. The atomic oxygen reacts with the oxygen molecules and other constituents of automobile exhaust fumes to form a variety of products including ozone. The ozone is harmful in itself and is also implicated in a highly complex series of continuing reactions. As long as there is ozone or nitrogen dioxide and sunlight present, other undesirable reactions will occur.
Pollution - Pollution is the introduction of substances or energy into the environment, resulting in deleterious effects of such a nature as to endanger human health, harm living resources and ecosystems, and impair or interfere with amenities and other legitimate uses of the environment. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollution
Precipitation - In meteorology, precipitation (also known as hydrometeor) is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that is deposited on the earth's surface. It occurs when the atmosphere (being a large gaseous solution) becomes saturated with water vapors and the water condenses and falls out of solution (i.e., precipitates) Air becomes saturated via two processes, Cooling and Adding Moisture. Precipitation that reaches the surface of the earth can occur in many different forms, including rain, freezing rain, snow, sleet, and hail. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precipitation_%28meteorology%29
R
Recharge area - Aquifers are replenished with water from the surface through a process called "recharge." This occurs as a part of the hydrologic cycle when water from rainfall percolates into underlying aquifers. The rate of recharge can be influenced by different factors, such as soil, plant cover, water content of surface materials, and rainfall intensity. Groundwater recharge may also occur from surface water bodies in arid areas. Overwithdrawal of groundwater occurs when the discharge of groundwater in an aquifer exceeds the recharge rate over a period of time. Source: http://www.answers.com/topic/groundwater
Respiratory disease - Respiratory disease is an acute or chronic illness affecting the respiratory system; includes acute respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
Respiratory system - The system consisting of the airways (nose, mouth, throat, bronchi) the lungs and the respiratory muscles that pump the air into and out of the body. See also lung function.
River basin - The area of land from which all surface run-off flows through a sequence of streams, rivers and, possibly, lakes into the sea at a single river mouth, estuary or delta. Source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/R/river_basin
S
SO2 - Abbreviation for Sulphur dioxide. Heavy, pungent, colourless gas formed primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels. It is harmful to human beings and vegetation, and contributes to the acidity in precipitation.
Scattered dwellings - Scattered dwellings is a diffuse source sector used in the inventory of releases into water defined as discharge from households not connected to urban waste water treatment plants and other diffuse emissions as surface run-off from paved areas. Source: http://www.bipro.de/__prtr/sub/glossary.htm
Stratosphere - Highly stratified region of atmosphere above the troposphere extending from about 10 km (ranging from 9 km in high latitudes to 16 km in the tropics on average) to about 50 km.
Sulphur dioxide - Heavy, pungent, colourless gas formed primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels. It is harmful to human beings and vegetation, and contributes to the acidity in precipitation.
Suspended matter - Suspended matter is made up of fine particles. Some are present naturally in river water, such as plankton, fine plant debris and minerals, while others stem from human activity (organic and inorganic matter). Suspended matter can make water more turbid, which has a negative impact on river and stream biology. Source: http://www.total.com/en/corporate-social-respons2000ibility/special-reports/conserving-water/focus-on-freshwater/contaminants_freshwater_7740.htm
T
Threshold - The dose or exposure level below which a significant adverse effect is not expected.
Topography - The representation of a portion of the earth’s surface showing natural and man-made features of a given locality such as rivers, streams, ditches, lakes, roads, buildings and variations in ground elevations for the terrain of the area. Source: http://www.hancockcoingov.org/surveyor/drainage_glossary_of_terms.asp
Toxins - A poisonous substance generally of plant or animal origin. Source: http://www.eionet.europa.eu/gemet/concept?cp=8549&langcode=en
Tributaries - A tributary (or confluent/affluent) is a stream or river which flows into another river (a parent river) or body of water but which may not flow directly into the sea. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tributaries
Troposphere - The lowest part of the atmosphere from the surface to about 10 km in altitude in mid-latitudes (ranging from 9 km in high latitudes to 16 km in the tropics on average) where clouds and 'weather' phenomena occur. In the troposphere, temperatures generally decrease with height.
Turbid waters - Water is said to be turbid when particles suspended in it restrict the transmission of light and give a cloudy or muddy appearance. Only small particles can remain suspended for significant periods of time. Relatively large and dense particles such as sand grains will sink rapidly. All particles denser than water will tend to sink unless there is a force operating to keep them suspended. Normally some level of motion of the water assist in suspending particles. Thus the duration of suspension depends on the intensity of the motion plus the size shape and density of the particles. Soil particles and organic fragments are probably the most common materials suspended in farm water supplies. Source: http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/DPI/nreninf.nsf/childdocs/-2BAF4D73531CD1544A2568B3000505AF-06B10C1ECAEAC904CA256BC80004E7AD-74C480262AB8B4DD4A256DEA002880E9-9F30983C5DC2E6CACA256BCF000AD4EC?open
U
µg/m3 - The concentration of an air pollutant (eg. ozone) is given in micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic meter air or µg/m3.
V
VOC - Abbreviation for Volatile organic compound. Organic chemical compounds that under normal conditions are gaseous or can vaporise and enter the atmosphere. VOCs include such compounds as methane, benzene, xylene, propane and butane. Methane is primarily emitted from agriculture (from ruminants and cultivation), whereas non-methane VOCs (or NMVOCs) are mainly emitted from transportation, industrial processes and use of organic solvents. See also NMVOC.
Volatile organic compound - Organic chemical compounds that under normal conditions are gaseous or can vaporise and enter the atmosphere. VOCs include such compounds as methane, benzene, xylene, propane and butane. Methane is primarily emitted from agriculture (from ruminants and cultivation), whereas non-methane VOCs (or NMVOCs) are mainly emitted from transportation, industrial processes and use of organic solvents. See also NMVOC.
W
Water body - Any mass of water having definite hydrological, physical, chemical and biological characteristics and which can be employed for one or several purposes. Source: http://www.eionet.europa.eu/gemet/concept?cp=9151&langcode=en
Water pricing - Applying a monetary rate or value at which water can be bought or sold. Source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/W/water_pricing
Water stress - Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use. Water stress causes deterioration of fresh water resources in terms of quantity (aquifer over-exploitation, dry rivers, etc.) and quality (eutrophication, organic matter pollution, saline intrusion, etc.). Source: http://epaedia.eea.europa.eu/alphabetical.php?letter=W&gid=108#viewterm
Water table - The top of the water surface in the saturated part of an aquifer. Source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/W/water_table
Watershed - The dividing line between two adjacent river systems, such as a ridge. Source: http://www.eionet.europa.eu/gemet/concept?cp=9235&langcode=en
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