Nitrogen Oxide emissions still a major problem in Europe

Air pollution emitted from sources such as traffic, industry and households is still above internationally agreed limits in many European countries, according to data published today. The accompanying report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) confirms an initial assessment published earlier this year, showing 12 EU Member States exceeded limits under the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive in 2010.

Under the NEC Directive, countries were obliged, by 2010, to meet ‘ceilings’ for four important air pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOX), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3). These pollutants are harmful to both people and the environment, causing respiratory illness, acidifying soil and and surface water, and damaging vegetation.

Since 2001, Member States have been working towards meeting these ceilings. Today’s publication of official 2010 data from Member States is the first time that those efforts can be measured against the legally binding targets. The findings, based on official preliminary data for 2010 reported by Member States, confirm EEA’s early analysis made in February 2012. Final emissions data for 2010 will be reported by countries at the end of this year.

“All these pollutants contribute to poor air quality, which damages people’s health and the environment,” EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said. “We should also note that 2010 was a recession year in much of Europe. As emissions can rebound during periods of economic recovery, countries need to make positive efforts to limit any increase of emissions in the future.”

Article from EEA

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