Indicator Assessment

Emissions of primary PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-29-en
  Also known as: CSI 003 , APE 009
Published 21 Dec 2012 Last modified 11 May 2021
16 min read
This page was archived on 23 Feb 2018 with reason: No more updates will be done
  • Total emissions of primary sub-10µm particulate matter (PM10) have reduced by 26% across the EEA-32 region between 1990 and 2010, driven by a 28% reduction in emissions of the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) fraction. Emissions of particulates between 2.5 and 10 µm have reduced by 21% over the same period; the difference of this trend to that of PM2.5 is due to significantly increased emissions in the 2.5 to 10 µm fraction from 'Road transport' and 'Agriculture' (of 50% and 15% respectively) since 1990.
  • Of this reduction in PM10 emissions, 39% has taken place in the 'Energy Production and Distribution' sector due to factors including the fuel-switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation and improvements in the performance of pollution abatement equipment installed at industrial facilities.
This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.

Emissions of primary PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter (EEA member countries)

Note: This chart shows past emission trends of primary PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter, 1990-2010. The EU-27 2020 Gothenburg emission target is also depicted in the chart.

Percentage change in PM2.5 and PM10 emissions 1990-2010 (EEA member countries)

Note: The reported change in primary PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter for each country, 1990-2010. The EU27 2020 Gothenburg national emission ceilings are also depicted in the chart.

Annual emissions of primary PM10 have reduced by 26% across the EEA-32 region between 1990 and 2010 (Figure 1), with significant reductions having occurred within most individual countries (Figure 2). The largest reductions have been reported by Slovakia (62%), the United Kingdom (59%) and Belgium (58%). In contrast emissions have increased in seven countries since 1990; the greatest increases have been reported in Finland (175%), Romania (88%) and Latvia (71%).

Data reported by Finland for years prior to 2000 does not include a number of sectors included in post-2000 data, and there is therefore a sharp rise in emissions between 1999 and 2000, after which emissions have remained approximately constant. In Latvia emissions from residential combustion have increased by 65% since 1990, contributing 63% of the increase in the national total over the same period. Similarly the rise in emissions in Romania is due chiefly to emissions from residential combustion sources, which have increased by 16% per year on average since 1990 such that emissions reported for 2010 were 20 times higher than for 1990.

The reductions in total emissions of primary PM10 between 1990 and 2010 have been mainly due to the introduction or improvement of abatement measures across the energy, road transport, and industrial sectors coupled with other developments in industrial sectors such as fuel switching from high-sulphur fuels to low-sulphur fuels, which has also contributed to decreased formation of secondary particulate matter from SO2 in the atmosphere. Emissions of primary PM10 are expected to decrease in the future as vehicle technologies are further improved and stationary fuel combustion emissions are controlled through abatement or use of low-sulphur fuels such as natural gas. Despite this, it is expected that within many of the urban areas across the EU, PM10 concentrations will still be well above the EU air quality limit value. Substantial further reductions in emissions will therefore be needed if the limit value set in the EU's Air Quality Directive is to be reached.

The 2012 revision of the Gothenburg Protocol to the UNECE LRTAP Convention set emission reduction targets for PM2.5 based on 2005 emission totals, to be met by countries in or before 2020. The EEA group of countries as a whole is on track towards achieving the total reduction target implied by the protocol. By 2010, average annual reductions of PM2.5 emissions in 13 EEA-32 countries were greater than that required to achieve their targets by 2020, and five countries had already achieved the reductions specified in the protocol.

Of the remaining 14 EEA-32 countries with targets under the protocol, five reported 2010 emissions which were above a linear target path to their 2020 targets by more than 20% of their 2005 emission totals. Additional measures may therefore need to be undertaken in future years in these countries (Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, Romania and Lithuania) if 2020 emission reduction targets are to be achieved.

There are no specific EU emission targets for primary PM10. However the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) and the Gothenburg Protocol to the UNECE LRTAP Convention both set ceilings (i.e. limits) for the secondary particulate matter precursors NH3, NOX and SO2 that countries must have met by 2010[1]. Further details concerning these pollutants may be found in the indicator fact sheet CSI001 (Emissions of acidifying substances) with additional details concerning the individual secondary particulate matter precursor pollutants available in the following indicator fact sheets:

[1] The NECD and Gothenburg protocol also set an emission ceiling for total emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) which contribute to ground-level ozone formation.

Sector contributions of emissions of primary particulate matter in 2010 (EEA member countries)

Note: The contribution made by different sectors to emissions of primary PM2.5 and PM10 in 2010.

Change in PM2.5 emissions for each sector and pollutant 1990-2010 (EEA member countries)

Note: Percentage change in primary PM2.5 particulate matter emissions for each sector and pollutant between 1990 and 2010.

Change in PM10 emissions for each sector and pollutant between 1990 and 2010 (EEA member countries)

Note: Percentage change in primary PM10 particulate matter emissions for each sector and pollutant between 1990 and 2010.

Contribution to total change in PM2.5 emissions for each sector between 1990 and 2010 (EEA member countries)

Note: The contribution made by each sector to the total change in primary PM2.5 particulate matter emissions between 1990 and 2010.

Contribution to total change in PM10 emissions for each sector between 1990 and 2010 (EEA member countries)

Note: The contribution made by each sector to the total change in primary PM10 particulate matter emission between 1990 and 2010.

The most important sources of primary PM10 emissions in 2010, across the EEA-32 region, were the sectors 'Commercial, institutional and households' (42% of total emissions), 'Industrial processes' (15%), 'Road transport' (14%) and 'Agriculture' (10%). The 'Commercial, institutional and households' sector includes combustion-related emissions from sources such as heating of residential and commercial properties.

Emissions of primary PM10 from most sectors have decreased from 1990 to 2010 (Figure 5), with the exception of the 'Agriculture', 'Other', 'Non-road transport' and 'Commercial, institutional and households' sectors, in which emissions have risen by 9.2%, 8.5%, 3.0% and 0.6% respectively.

Since 1990, emissions from the combustion-related sectors 'Energy production and distribution', 'Energy use in industry' and 'Road Transport' have reduced particularly significantly, contributing 39%, 25% and 20% respectively of the total reduction in sub-10μm particulate matter emissions (Figure 7). As described in the main assessment, a combination of factors has contributed to the reduction of both primary PM10 and secondary particulate matter emissions in these sectors between 1990 and 2010. These include for primary PM10;

  • improvements in the performance of particulate abatement equipment at industrial combustion facilities, e.g. coal-fired power stations;
  • since the early 1990s, a fuel shift from the use of coal in the energy industries, industrial and domestic sectors to cleaner burning fuels such as gas;
  • cleaner stoves for domestic heating;
  • introduction of particle filters on new vehicles (driven by the legislative Euro standards);

and for the secondary particulate matter precursors;

  • fuel switching from high-sulphur solid (e.g. coal) and liquid (e.g. heavy fuel oil) fuels to low sulphur fuels (such as natural gas) for power and heat production purposes within the energy industries, industry and domestic sectors;
  • the impact of European Union directives relating to the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels;
  • the introduction of flue-gas abatement techniques (e.g. flue gas desulphurisation, NOX scrubbers and selective catalytic and non-catalytic reduction, i.e. SCR and SNCR) and introduction of combustion modification technologies (such as use of low NOX burners);
  • the introduction of three way catalytic converters for petrol-fuelled cars (driven by the legislative Euro standards);
  • the introduction of exhaust particle traps for diesel HGVs to meet emission standards EURO V.

Supporting information

Indicator definition

  • This indicator tracks trends since 1990 in anthropogenic emissions of primary particulate matter less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5) and 10 µm (PM10) respectively, and secondary particulate matter precursors (nitrogen oxides (NOX), ammonia (NH3), and sulphur dioxide (SO2)).
  • The indicator also provides information on emissions by sectors: Energy production and distribution; Energy use in industry; Industrial processes; Road transport; Non-road transport; Commercial, institutional and households; Solvent and product use; Agriculture; Waste; Other.
  • Geographical coverage: EEA-32. The EEA-32 country grouping includes countries of the EU-27 (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) EFTA-4 (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway) and Turkey.
  • Temporal coverage: 1990-2010.


ktonnes (1000 tonnes)


Policy context and targets

Context description

There are no specific EU emission targets set for primary particulate matter, as with respect to PM emissions, measures are currently focused on controlling emissions of the secondary PM precursors. However, there are several Directives that affect the emissions of primary PM, including the 2008 Air Quality Directive and emission standards for specific mobile and stationary sources for primary PM10 and secondary precursor emissions.

Within the European Union, the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC Directive) imposes emission ceilings (or limits) for emissions of the particulate matter precursors pollutants nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and ammonia that harm human health and the environment (the NEC Directive also sets emissions ceilings for a fourth pollutant - non-methane volatile organic compounds).

Other key EU legislation is targeted at reducing emissions of air pollutants from specific sources, for example:

  • transport;
  • industrial facilities and other stationary sources.


Internationally, the issue of air pollution emissions is also being addressed by the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (the LRTAP Convention) and its protocols. A key objective of the protocol is to regulate emissions on a regional basis within Europe and to protect eco-systems from transboundary pollution by setting emission reduction ceilings to be reached by 2010 for the same four pollutants as addressed in the NECD (i.e. SO2, NOX, NH3 and NMVOCs). Overall for the EU Member States, the ceilings set within the Gothenburg protocol are generally either slightly less strict or the same as the emission ceilings specified in the NECD.


There are presently no European national ceilings for emissions of particulate matter.

Emissions of the secondary PM precursors SO2, NOX and NH3 are covered by the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) (2001/81/EC) and the Gothenburg protocol under the United Nations Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) (UNECE 1999). The NECD generally involves slightly stricter emission reduction targets than the Gothenburg Protocol for EU-15 Member States for 2010.

Table: 2010 Targets under the NEC Directive and the Gothenburg Protocol, in kt

2010 NECD ceilings

2010 CLRTAP Gothenburg Protocol ceilings








Austria 103 39 66 107 39 66
Belgium 176 99 74 181 106 74
Bulgaria 247 836 108 266 856 108
Cyprus 23 39 9
Czech Republic 286 265 80 286 283 101
Denmark 127 55 69 127 55 69
Estonia 60 100 29
Finland 170 110 31 170 116 31
France 810 375 780 860 400 780
Germany 1051 520 550 1081 550 550
Greece 344 523 73 344 546 73
Hungary 198 500 90 198 550 90
Ireland 65 42 116 65 42 116
Italy 990 475 419 1000 500 419
Latvia 61 101 44 84 107 44
Liechtenstein 0.37 0.11 0.15
Lithuania 110 145 84 110 145 84
Luxembourg 11 4 7 11 4 7
Malta 8 9 3
Netherlands 260 50 128 266 50 128
Norway 156 22 23
Poland 879 1397 468 879 1397 468
Portugal 250 160 90 260 170 108
Romania 437 918 210 437 918 210
Slovakia 130 110 39 130 110 39
Slovenia 45 27 20 45 27 20
Spain 847 746 353 847 774 353
Switzerland 79 26 63
Sweden 148 67 57 148 67 57
United Kingdom 1167 585 297 1181 625 297


* Iceland and Turkey do not have a ceiling under either the NEC Directive or the Gothenburg protocol.

Related policy documents

  • Directive 2001/81/EC, national emission ceilings
    Directive 2001/81/EC, on nation al emissions ceilings (NECD) for certain atmospheric pollutants. Emission reduction targets for the new EU10 Member States have been specified in the Treaty of Accession to the European Union 2003  [The Treaty of Accession 2003 of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. AA2003/ACT/Annex II/en 2072] in order that they can comply with the NECD.
  • UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution
    UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.


Methodology for indicator calculation

This indicator is based on officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to EEA and UNECE/EMEP (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe/Co-operative programme for monitoring and evaluation of the long-range transmission of air pollutants in Europe) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention), submission 2011. For the EU-27 Member States, the data used is consistent with the emissions data reported by the EU in its annual submission to the LRTAP Convention.

Recommended methodologies for emission inventory estimation are compiled in the EMEP/EEA Air Pollutant Emission Inventory Guidebook, (EMEP/EEA, 2013). Base data are available from the EEA Data Service ( and the EMEP web site ( Where necessary, gaps in reported data are filled by ETC/ACC using simple interpolation techniques (see below). The final gap-filled data used in this indicator are available from the EEA Data Service (

Base data, reported in the UNECE/EMEP Nomenclature for Reporting (NFR) sector format are aggregated into the following EEA sector codes to obtain a consistent reporting format across all countries and pollutants:

  • Energy production and distribution: emissions from public heat and electricity generation, oil refining,  production of solid fuels, extraction and distribution of solid fossil fuels and geothermal energy;
  • Energy use in industry: emissions from combustion processes used in the manufacturing industry including boilers, gas turbines and stationary engines;
  • Industrial processes: emissions derived from non-combustion related processes such as the production of minerals, chemicals and metal production;
  • Road transport: light and heavy duty vehicles, passenger cars and motorcycles;
  • Non-road transport: railways, domestic shipping, certain aircraft movements, and non-road mobile machinery used in agriculture & forestry;
  • Commercial, institutional and households: emissions principally occurring from fuel combustion in the services and household sectors;
  • Solvent and product use: non-combustion related emissions mainly in the services and households sectors including activities such as paint application, dry-cleaning and other use of solvents;
  • Agriculture: manure management, fertiliser application, field-burning of agricultural wastes
  • Waste: incineration, waste-water management;
  • Other: emissions included in national total for entire territory not allocated to any other sector


The following table shows the conversion of Nomenclature for Reporting (NFR) sector codes used for reporting by countries into EEA sector codes:

EEA classification

Non-GHGs (NFR)


National totals

National total


Energy production and distribution

1A1, 1A3e, 1B


Energy use in industry



Road transport



Non-road transport (non-road mobile machinery)

1A3 (exl 1A3b)


Industrial processes



Solvent and product use








Commercial, institutional and households

1A4ai, 1A4aii, 1A4bi, 1A4bii, 1A4ci, 1A4cii, 1A5a, 1A5b




Methodology for gap filling

An improved gap-filling methodology was implemented in 2010 that enables a complete time series trend for the main air pollutants (eg NOX, SOX, NMVOC, NH3 and CO) to be compiled. In cases where countries did not report emissions for any year, it meant that gap-filling could not be applied. For these pollutants, therefore, the aggregated data are not yet complete and are likely to underestimate true emissions. Further methodological details of the gap-filling procedure are provided in section 1.4.2 Data gaps and gap-filling of the European Union emission inventory report 1990–2009 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP).

Methodology references

No methodology references available.



Methodology uncertainty

The use of gap-filling for when countries have not reported emissions for one of more years can potentially lead to artificial trends, but it is considered unavoidable if a comprehensive and comparable set of emissions data for European countries is required for policy analysis purposes.

Data sets uncertainty

Primary PM2.5 and PM10 data is of relatively higher uncertainty compared to emission estimates for the secondary PM precursors. The contribution of secondary particulate matter precursor emissions to PM formation varies considerably across different emission sources and geographical region (meteorology etc).

Overall scoring: (1-3, 1=no major problems, 3=major reservations)

  • Relevancy: 1
  • Accuracy: 2
  • Comparability over time: 2
  • Comparability over space: 2

Rationale uncertainty

This indicator is regularly updated by EEA and is used in state of the environment assessments. The uncertainties related to methodology and data sets are therefore of importance.

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 003
  • APE 009
Frequency of updates
This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.
EEA Contact Info