ETC/ATNI Report 9/2020: Air Quality Plans and Measures. Analysis of data submitted from 2014 to 2020.

The European Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQD) have the overall objective to protect human health and the environment from ambient air pollution. This report provides an overview of air quality plans and measures reported for areas where the standards of air quality specified by the AAQD were not attained. The results are based on the reported data from 2014 to November 2020 by 23 countries to the EEA.

27 Dec 2021

Gabriela Sousa Santos, Tore Clemetsen, Torleif Weydahl, Cristina Guerreiro

Prepared by:

Gabriela Sousa Santos (NILU), Tore Clemetsen (NILU), Torleif Weydahl (NILU), Cristina Guerreiro (NILU)

The submitted data were analysed with the aim to provide information to the EEA Member countries that can be used to improve their air quality management practices, and to give feedback on data quality and possible use. Previous studies in the framework of the Air Implementation Pilot (published in 2012 and 2013) made assessments of the measures and management practices but were not successful in defining the measures’ effectiveness, so the present report also looks into what kind of information can be obtained from the data.

In the period 2014 – 2020, 23 EEA member countries submitted at least one air quality plan. Most countries focus their plans on pollutants related to traffic: NO2 and/or PM10. Most measures target exceedances of NO2 (62 %), PM10 (26 %) and PM2.5 (10 %), and measures are reported that target exceedances of standards of benzo(a)pyrene, nickel and lead (all in PM10) as well as SO2. In one case, the measure is related to benzene.

« Traffic » is the main sector leading to exceedances, with 64 % of records, followed by « domestic heating » (14 %), « local industry » (10 %) and “Other” (8 %). The « Other » category when given further information could comprise a variety of sources including meteorology, agricultural residue burning, harbour activity or shipping.

The majority of the exceedances occurred in urban areas (65 %) followed by suburban areas (21 %), while 14 % of the exceedances addressed in the plans occurred in rural areas.

The available data consist of a large number of individual records (ranging from several hundreds to over 20 thousand depending on the reporting element) that in theory can be linked using unique identifiers. However, not all the records can be linked. While the basis for analysis can vary depending on which reporting segments are used, the overall results are consistent across the segments, and provide a very good overview of which air pollution abatement measures are taken by national and local authorities.