Contribution of Natural Sources to PM Levels in Europe


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Air pollution levels in the EU depend to a considerable extent on anthropogenic emissions; however, in some areas large amounts of PM can be emitted from various sources of natural origin or transported from regions outside the EU. Exceedences of air quality limit values represent breaches of Community law which can have significant legal consequences for the Member States. For some existing limit values, such as those in directive 1999/30/EC (1st Daughter Directive), an exceedence which is caused by particular natural sources can be ignored for the purposes of ensuring compliance with Community law. Whenever an assessment of the impact of natural sources to PM levels is performed, according to the legal protocol, Member States shall inform the Commission whether exceedances are due to natural events, and this contribution may be “deducted” from the measured daily PM values. On request of the European Commission’s DG Environment, the Joint Research Centre is contributing to clarify the notion of natural sources in Community legislation, and to document about the methodologies which are available to permit Member States to determine natural sources of air pollution. This information will later be incorporated into specific guidance to be developed by the European Commission in the context of implementing the new legislation once adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.

A workshop on “Contribution of natural sources to PM levels in Europe” was organized by the JRC in Ispra on October 2006; the workshop aimed at defining and identifying the origin of the natural sources that may contribute to the different PM levels in Europe and the available methods to quantify this contribution. The contents of this report, based on the results of the workshop, represent the experiences of Member States in the identification and evaluation of the natural contribution to PM and describe the methods implemented by routing networks, national laboratories and research groups in Europe.

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