Particle reduction plans in Europe - Implementation of the first daughter directive on ambient air quality in Europe

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Courtesy of European Environmental Bureau

This publication analyses the quality of national implementation of the first Air Quality Daughter Directive (1999/30/EC). The report is based on information from 15 NGOs (members of the EEB’s Clean Air Working Group), who provided data for PM10 concentrations in ambient air as well as information about air quality management plans from 30 cities in Europe.

The air pollution challenge

Air pollution in the European Union – particularly in urban areas – is a pressing problem as many people are exposed to high concentrations of pollutants. Recently published research carried out for the European Commission showed that air pollution levels of the year 2000 in Europe lead to almost 370,000 premature deaths per year. Furthermore, air pollution causes significant human suffering such as over 114,000 serious hospital admissions per year and affects the lives of millions of people, who need to take respiratory medication (CAFE 2005 a).

Most of the health effects related to air pollution come from long-term exposure to fine particles (PM2.5). These are tiny dust particles with a diameter of about 2.5 micrometers – about a thirtieth of a human hair. Furthermore biodiversity is affected in more than 60% of European ecosystems because of nitrogen deposition above the critical loads and serious damage is also caused by acid deposition (“acid rain”) and high levels of ozone concentrations (CAFE 2005 b).

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