This indicator shows the fraction of the EU-27 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. Until now, the comparison was done with the 2005 edition of the WHO guidelines, and this year, for the first time, the update from 2021 is used.
The indicator is based on measurements of air pollutants as reported under the Air Quality Directivesand the Decisions on the exchange of information.
Methodology for indicator calculation
Information on cities is obtained from the Urban Audit (UA) data. 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 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.
In this version, for the first time, the 2020 version of the UA has been used.
According to a study for the European Commission by Entec UK Limited, 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. These data have been divided by the total population figures for 2001 according to the Eurostat census.
For Croatia and Malta there are no data on the 2001 population in that census, so the data in the publication Europe in Figures – Eurostat yearbook 2006-07 have been used. Furthermore, for Cyprus and Malta there are no data for people living close to roads in the study, 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.
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).
For city and/or greater city geometries with no information on population in the Urban Audit data collection, population data have been retrieved from http://www.citypopulation.de/.
Methodology for gap filling
No related methodology for gap filling has been specified.
EC, 2006 - Development of a methodology to assess the population exposed to high levels of noise and air pollution close to major transport infrastructure, prepared by Entec UK Limited (Appendix D).
EC, 2007 - EUROPE IN FIGURES — Eurostat yearbook 2006-07.
EC, 2013, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — ‘A clean air programme for Europe’ (COM(2013) 918 final).
EC, 2019, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — The European Green Deal (COM/2019/640 final).
EC, 2020, Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2030 (COM/2020/652 final).
EC, 2021, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — Pathway to a Healthy Planet for All EU Action Plan: 'Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil' (COM/2021/400 final).
EU, 1997 - Council Decision 97/101/EC on the exchange of information and data on ambient air quality, replaced by (EU, 2011).
EU, 2011 - Commission Implementing Decision 2011/850/EU laying down rules for Directive 2004/107/EC and 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the reciprocal exchange of information and reporting on ambient air.
Eurostat 2022a - Urban Audit 202
Eurostat 2022b - Population by age groups and sex
WHO, 2000 - Air Quality Guidelines for Europe. Second edition. WHO Regional Publications, European Series, No. 91. World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark.
WHO, 2006 - WHO air quality guidelines for particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide. Global update 2005. World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark.
WHO, 2014 - Burden of disease from ambient air pollution for 2012 — Summary of results, World Health Organization, Geneva.
WHO, 2021 - WHO global air quality guidelines: particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. World Health Organization.
This indicator is relevant for current European air quality legislation related to the protection of human health in the Air Quality Directives 2004/107/EC and 2008/50/EC. Besides EU policies on air quality, it is also related to the 2005 WHO Air Quality Guidelines for protecting public health.
The objective of some strategic policy directions such as the Seventh Environment Action Programme (7th EAP) or the Clean Air for Europe Programme is to achieve levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on, and risks to, human health and the environment.
The EU Clean Air Policy Package, adopted by the European Commission on 18 December 2013, proposes in the Communication 'A Clean Air Programme for Europe' the short-term objective of achieving full compliance with existing legislation by 2020 at the latest; and the long-term objective of no exceedances of the WHO guideline levels for human health.
The European Green Deal, adopted by the European Commission on 11 December 2019, will improve the well-being and health of citizens and future generations by providing, among others, fresh air, more public transport, cleaner energy or longer lasting products. The European Green Deal proposes to revise the EU air quality standards to align them more closely with the World Health Organization recommendations. In this context, The Zero Pollution Action Plan, has the 2050 vision of reducing air pollution to levels no longer considered harmful to health and natural ecosystems and the 2030 target of reducing premature deaths due to air pollution by more than 55%, in comparison with those in 2005.
Finally, the European Commission published a proposal for an 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP) on 14 October 2020. The proposal supports the environment objectives of the European Green Deal and reiterate the commitment to the 7th EAP’s 2050 vision.
No related targets have been specified.
No related methodology uncertainty has been specified.
Data sets uncertainty
No related data sets uncertainty has been specified.
No related rationale uncertainty has been specified.