Heavy metal emissions in Europe

Heavy metals accumulate in ecosystems and damage human health. In line with the EU’s commitments under the Air Convention, specific legislation led to reductions in emissions of heavy metals across Europe from 1990 levels. Between 2005 and 2019, emissions have continued to decline, with lead emissions decreasing by 44%, mercury emissions by 45% and cadmium emissions by 33% across the EU-27 Member States. In 2019, Germany, Italy and Poland contributed most to heavy metal emissions in the EU.

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Persistent organic pollutant emissions

Since 1990, emissions of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) decreased in the EEA-33 countries, e.g. hexachlorobenzene (HCB) decreased by 95 %, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by 75 %, dioxins and furans by around 70 % and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by 83 %. The majority of countries report that POP emissions fell during the period 1990 to 2017. In 2017, the most significant sources of emissions included the ‘Commercial, institutional and households’  and ‘Industrial processes and product use’ sectors.

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