Air pollution by ozone across Europe during summer 2010

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Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Ozone is a 'secondary' pollutant formed in the lower part of the atmosphere (the troposphere) from complex photochemical reactions following emissions of precursor gases such as nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds. Ozone is a powerful oxidising agent and one of the air pollutants of most concern in Europe.

In Europe, ozone concentrations are also influenced by emissions in other northern hemisphere countries and by poorly regulated sectors such as international shipping and aviation. Thus, ozone pollution is not only a local air quality issue but also a hemispheric and global problem.

Ozone levels become particularly high in regions where considerable ozone precursor emissions combine with stagnant meteorological conditions during the summer, when high insolation and temperatures occur. In 2010, levels continued to exceed the long-term objectives established in EU legislation to protect human health.

This report provides an evaluation of ground-level ozone pollution in Europe for April-September 2010, based on information submitted to the European Commission under Directive 2002/3/EC on ozone in ambient air (EC, 2002). Since Member States have not yet finally validated the submitted data, the conclusions drawn in this report should be considered as preliminary.

Directive 2002/3/EC requires Member States to report exceedances of the information threshold and alert threshold values (set out in Table 1.1) to the Commission before the end of the month following an occurrence. Furthermore, by 31 October the Member States must provide additional information for the summer period. This should include data on exceedances of the long-term objective for the protection of human health (a maximum daily 8-hour average concentration of 120 (.ig/m3).

In order to provide information as promptly as possible, an overview of the monthly data provided by the countries is made available by the ETC/ACM on the EEA website: http://www.eea.europa.eu/maps/ ozone/compare/summer-reporting-under-directive-2002-3-ec. In addition, EEA's near real-time ozone website (http://www.eea.europa.eu/maps/ozone) shows ground-level ozone levels across Europe and provides up-to-date information (see Annex 3).

Overview of ozone air pollution in summer 2010

All 27 EU Member States provided information to the European Commission on observed one-hour and long-term objective exceedances. In addition, 11 other countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia including Kosovo under UNSC Resolution 1244/99, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey) supplied information to the EEA upon request.

Main findings

In total, 2 193 ozone monitoring sites reported data, of which 2 128 were located in EU Member States. The following preliminary conclusions can be drawn from the period April-September 2010:

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