Air pollution - State and impacts (Spain)

SOER 2010 Common environmental theme (Deprecated) expired
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This content has been archived on 21 Mar 2015, reason: A new version has been published
SOER Common environmental theme from Spain
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 21 Mar 2015

Assessment of air quality in Spain by zone

Air quality assessment is prescribed by European legislation and has been progressively transposed into Spanish law. Analysis of the 2008 assessment based on data obtained from the main regional air pollution-monitoring networks can be obtained on detail from the report “Spain's Natural, Rural and Marine Environment 2009”, and could be highlighted the following:

  • NO2 (137 air quality zones): 126 zones recorded values below the annual limit value and 133 recorded values below the hourly limit value.
  • PM10 (138 air quality zones): 131 zones recorded values below the annual limit value and 95 recorded values below the daily limit value.
  • O3 (136 air quality zones): 24 zones recorded values below the long-term target value for the protection of human health and 29 zones recorded values below the target value for the protection of vegetation.


It is worth emphasising the following:

  • Areas affected by SO2 have decreased over the years and problems now only persist in specific zones.
  • Although the limit and target values for NO2, PM10 and tropospheric ozone are still exceeded, this only occurs with NO2 in Spain's big metropolitan centres. Moreover, in 2008, levels of PM10 concentration fell.
  • Significant advances have been made in modelling to ensure that zones are not left unassessed.


Air quality in the urban environment in towns and cities with over 50,000 inhabitants

Since 2000, the population-weighted mean number of hours during which the 1-hour mean concentration of NO2 is above 200 µg/m3 has been below the limit value set by the legislation for 2010. Moreover, the weighted annual mean concentration has been below the limit value of 40 µg/m3 since 2006.

For particulate matter smaller than 10 µm, in 2009 the population-weighted mean number of days per year in which the daily mean concentration was over 50 µg/m3 was below the 35-day limit in force since 2005. Furthermore, the mean annual figure for PM10 is even more favourable and has not exceeded the limit value set for 2005 since 2002.

The population-weighted mean number of days per year in which concentration levels exceeded the maximum daily eight-hour running average of 120 µg/m3 for urban ozone is well below the target value for 2010.

Air quality

Regional background air quality for the protection of health and vegetation

The Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network reports on air quality in areas not directly affected by sources of pollution. The Spanish network began operating in 1983 as an EMEP/CAMP network set up to ensure compliance with their commitments. From 2006 onwards, management was combined with the GAW (Global Atmosphere Watch), which resulted in creation of the current 13-station EMEP/CAMP/GAW network.

The 'Environmental Profile of Spain' summarises data available from stations belonging to the EMEP network and portrays the general state of regional background air quality based on the mean, minimum and maximum concentrations recorded at the stations each year. Analysis reveals that only ozone levels exceed the target value for the protection of human health and vegetation, though this did decrease in 2008.


Environmental noise

In conformance with Law 37/2003, of 17 November 2003, on Noise, which transposes Directive 2002/49/EC of 25 June into Spanish law, Strategic Noise Maps (SNM) have been drawn up and approved for Spain's state-owned road network and its large-scale rail and airport infrastructure.

The SNM produced in the first phase of implementation of the Directive indicated that a total of 8,130,800 people living in large urban conurbations were affected by noise from road and rail traffic, airports and industrial facilities.

Outside these conurbations, the number of people affected by major roads stood at 2,116,100, while those affected by major railways totalled 81,800 and the number affected by major airports reached 143,700.

SNMs were drawn up for roads carrying over 6 million vehicles per year, for railways carrying over 60 000 trains per year and for airports recording over 50 000 arrivals and departures per year.





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

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