Cleaner European air

Since measurements began in 1973, there has been a substantial reduction in sulphur emissions to air in Western Europe. 2005 sees the lowest emissions recorded. This is clearly reflected in the measurements of sulphur concentrations in the air and precipitation in southern Norway.

The observed reductions in concentration levels are in agreement with reported downwards trends in pollutant emissions in Europe.

A recent report (July 2005) done by The Norwegian Institute for Air Research(NILU), on behalf of The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT), show reductions of up to 93% for sulphur dioxide, 64-73% for sulphate and up to 26% for ammonium and nitrogen oxide.

For Norway´s part, the cleaner air-quality has improved the problems with acid rain and acidity of lakes in Southern Norway, but acidification will still be a major environmental problem in parts of Norway for many years to come.

Cleaner European air

The acidification of precipitation was identified in Scandinavia in the 1960s. The main reason for this acidification was the increase in sulphur emissions in Europe during the post-war years up until around 1980.

Pollutants were transported across national borders in Europe. The extent of these long-range transport and deposition was first documented in the OECD project, initiated by NILU in 1970 and completed in 1977. Since 1977, transboundary air pollution monitoring and evaluations were continued in the EMEP project in which NILU acts as the chemical co-ordinating centre.

NILU in Europe:

NILU’s background in European air quality research started already in 1970 through the planning and design of the OECD programme on long-range transport of air pollution in Europe. From 1977 NILU has headed the Chemical Coordinating Centre in the European Monitoring and Evaluation Program(EMEP). NILU is also part of the Air Quality Topic Centre (ETC-AQ) in the European Environment Agency (EEA).

EMEP data are freely available for non-commercial use and most of the observations can be accessed through the NILU web site `NILU/CCC/Network`. NILU is also responsible for data storage and dissemination for similar data from other Conventions, projects and programmes. All this information can be found at the NILU Data Centre.

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