Air quality concentrations

Page Last modified 04 Dec 2019
1 min read
Once air pollutants are released into the atmosphere they undergo a series of physical and chemical transformations to finally end up deposited on the ground, waters and vegetation, and are inhaled by humans and animals. Air quality is assessed by the concentrations of those pollutants in the ambient air.

The EU´s Ambient Air Quality Directives set maximum values  for the concentration levels of pollutants. When these maximum values are exceeded, the competent authorities must implement programmes and measures to bring levels below them. These programmes and measures can also be implemented even if air quality is considered good, either to maintain it or to improve it further.

The World Health Organization has also set Air Quality guidelines to protect human health from the impacts of air pollutants.

To comply with provisions under the Ambient Air Quality Directives, EU Member States and EEA member and cooperating countries measure pollutant concentrations at monitoring stations. These measurements are reported to the EEA and consist mainly of:

  • Up-to-date (or near-real time) measurements coming from automatic samplers, submitted with an as-short a delay as possible from when they were taken. These measurements are available in the up-to-date viewer. The up-to-date measurements are also used to calculate the air quality index.
  • Validated measurements from both automatic and manual samplers are submitted annually by the end of September of the year following the year the measurements were taken. They are available in the statistical viewer. These measurements are used by the European Commission to check compliance with requirements under the Ambient Air Quality Directives
  • Both sets of data can be downloaded via the EEA’s Data download service.

Apart from measurements, models can also be used by the countries to assess air quality. Officially submitted results of the models will be available soon.

The EEA uses the information transmitted by their member and cooperating countries in several assessment products, such as indicators and publications (briefings, reports, etc.). For these assessments, maps of concentrations derived from the measurements and some complementary data are also used. Those maps are produced on a yearly basis by the European Topic Centre on Air pollution, transport, noise and industrial pollution and are available in the Interpolated air quality data.


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