Concentrations of air pollutants constant despite drop in emissions

13 Nov 2007

Concentrations of ozone and particulate matter, two harmful airborne pollutants, have not improved since 1997 despite substantial cuts in emissions of air pollutants across Europe, says a new EEA report, released today.

Key points of the report

  • Estimates indicate that up to 43 % of the European urban population were exposed to PM10 concentrations in excess of the EU air quality limit value between 1990–2004. The worst affected areas were Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary as well as in the Po Valley in Italy and southern Spain.
  • Up to 60 % of the European urban population was exposed to ozone concentrations in excess of the EU air quality limit values between 1990–2004. Exposure of crops and forests to ozone exceeded limit/critical values over very large areas of central and southern Europe.
  • Human exposure to certain other potentially harmful air pollutants, sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and lead, has decreased markedly due to effective European air quality policies. This is particularly true with policies reducing emissions of SO2 from power and heat generation as well as CO and lead emissions from passenger cars.

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EEA report No 2/2007: Air pollution in Europe 1990–2004

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