Air pollution by benzene, carbon monoxide, PAHs and heavy metals ETC/ACC Technical Paper 2008/12

21 Jan 2009

Iulian Petchesi

This report provides an assessment of the current environmental status with respect to a number of pollutants dealt with by air quality legislation of the European Union, namely, arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, carbon monoxide, benzene and benzo(a)pyrene.
The available air quality information (both emission data as well as ambient concentration) for heavy metals and benzo(a)pyrene for the EU27 is too scattered or of too low quality to allow estimates of population exposure to be made. Coverage of carbon monoxide and benzene data is better but requires further work to move to population exposure estimates.
The available information shows that concentrations of the heavy metals are in excess of the target or limit values at a limited number of location s(less than 4%); At the majority of the locations concentrations are below the lower assessment threshold. Exceedances of the limit values of carbon monoxide and benzene are observed at a limited number of locations. About 5 million people lives in urban zones exceeding the limit value of carbon monoxide, for benzene a corresponding number of 15 million is found.
Most concern is on exceedances of the target value of benzo(a)pyrene: this level is exceeded at about one third of the monitoring points, both urban and rural background. There is some concentration of impact around central Europe, e.g. 45% of Czech population subject to concentrations above the target value, although zones as far apart as the UK and Greece are also affected.

Prepared by: ETC/ACC member Kevin Barrett, Jaroslav Fiala, Frank de Leeuw, Jenny Ward

Published by: ETC/ACC, December 2008, 36 pp.