Air pollution - State and impacts (Denmark)

SOER 2010 Common environmental theme (Deprecated)
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SOER Common environmental theme from Denmark
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 11 May 2020

Health problems caused by air pollution are particularly a problem in the larger cities. The main concerns are particulate matter (PM) and nitrogendioxide (NO2). The yearly average 2010-EU limit value for air quality of NO2 cannot be met. In 2009 all EU air quality limit values for PM10,is being meet. For other air pollutants, including SO2, CO, ozone, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals (Pb, As, CD and Ni) the EU air quality criteria are met. Estimations show that air pollution from particulate matter causes severe health problems estimated to cause 3 400 premature deaths each year.

Figure 1a (2.4.1)Figure 1b (2.4.2)

Figure 1a + 1b (2.4.1/2.4.2). Yearly average concentration data of particulate matter (PM10) in city air measured in the larger cities in Denmark, i.e. Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg (Figure a) and the number of days with exceedance of the EU air quality limit 50mg /m3 (Figure b). The EU air quality limit of 50mg /m3 can only be exceeded 35 days a year. Source: National Environmental Research Institute.

Figure 2 (2.4.1)

Figure 2 (2.4.1). Concentration of nitrogen oxide (NO2) in city air measured in the larger cities in Denmark, i.e. Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg. EUs air quality limit value is also shown.

Source: National Environmental Research Institute

Emission of particulate matter causes severe health problems, resulting in an increased number of cases and worsening of asthma attacks, chronic and acute bronchitis and increased hospitalisation from cardiovascular diseases. An estimated 3 400 premature deaths each year, mainly among people already suffering from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, has been calculated based on city air quality measurements.

Figure 3 (8.3.1)

Figure 3 (8.3.1). Incidence of respiratory diseases among adults and children in Denmark. In 2005 no complete data series is available.

Deposition of nitrogen compounds to the aquatic and terrestrial areas have been decreasing over the last decades and from 1989 to 2008 the decrease is estimated at 28% and 30%, respectively. Terrestrial deposition of sulphur has decreased by 66% from 1989 to 2008 while no significant change in deposition of phosphorus has been estimated. Deposition of nine heavy metals (Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd and Pb) has remained unchanged since 2005.

Figure 4 (6.7.3)

Figure 4 (6.7.3). Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen from air in kg N per ha in 2008. Source: National Environmental Research Institute (unpublished data)

Figure 5 (6.7.3)

Figure 5 (6.7.3). Atmospheric deposition of sulphur in kg per ha in 2008. Source: National Environmental Research Institute (unpublished data)


Although deposition of acidifying and eutrophying air pollutants is decreasing, the critical loads to sensitive habitats continue to be exceeded for sulphur and nitrogen. Also ground-level ozone frequently exceeds the critical level for toxicity effects on plants.

Figure 6. (6.7.1)

Figure 6 (6.7.1): The average atmospheric deposition of nitrogen (N) to Danish land-based areas. Critical loads for some of the most sensitive ecosystem areas and hardwood are included in the figure. For comparison a conventional corn field is fertilised with approximately 150 kg N per year. Source: National Environment Research Institute and Forest and Nature Agency



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The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

Filed under: SOER2010, air pollution
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