Air quality issue

The Castellón region of Spain is a key region for ceramics production, accounting for approximately 40% of ceramics produced in the EU. Other areas of industrial activity include textile production, oil refining and chemical production. All of these activities and the associated road traffic have led to poor air quality. An evaluation of ambient air quality data from 2002 to 2007 identified concerns regarding concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NOX), particulate matter and heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, nickel and cadmium. 

Example of measures taken

In response to these concerns, the region implemented a range of legislative actions and measures to improve air quality, with a particular focus on reducing emissions of air pollutants from industry. From 2009 to 2012, the regional authorities reviewed the operating conditions of industrial activities to ensure compliance with requirements under EU legislation, for example the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (now revised to the Industrial Emissions Directive). This directive requires the implementation of best available techniques (BATs). Industrial facilities improved their environmental performance to comply with permit requirements, which set new emission limit values that were 80% below previous values. The ceramic frit, glaze and pigment manufacturing sectors signed a voluntary agreement committing to reducing emission levels to below those established in permits.

Costs and trade-offs

The estimated cost was about €140 million. This does not include the costs of implementing BATs at industrial facilities and additional measures taken to clean roads and control emissions from transport.

Who was involved?

The regional government of Valencia was the competent authority involved in updating permits for industrial production. A range of industrial sectors were involved in the initiative, including the ceramic tiles and spray drying sector, the ceramic frit, glaze and pigment manufacturing sector, thermal power plants and chemical plants.

Lessons learnt

  • Coordinating the implementation of the air quality plan across multiple stakeholders, including industrial sectors, environmental associations, and scientific and technological institutions, was challenging.
  • Involving health professionals in the development and implementation of the air quality plan would have provided valuable information about health benefits for the local population.

Castellón region, Spain
Type of measure
Accelerating technology uptake, use of Best Available Techniques, improve environmental performance
Target pollutants
Nitrogen oxides (NOX)
Particulate matter
Heavy metals
Pollution source targeted
Description of the project (in Spanish)



Geographic coverage


Filed under:
Filed under: air pollution control
Document Actions