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Posted on: 22/02/2006

eu_airqualityAir quality is threatened by pollution to the detriment of human health. As outlined in SOER 2005, air quality is a matter of concern due to its implications for human and ecosystem health, but also because of its pervasiveness - the difficulty of avoiding polluted air. The EU Commission has proposed an Air Quality Directive which consolidates and streamlines existing air quality legislation with respect to current values of air quality standards, introduces flexibility and a new standard for fine particles.

The Commission's proposed Directive maintain all the numerical values of the air quality standards, that is, the concentration of pollutants to be attained by Member States - set out in the current legislation. However the proposal introduces flexibility for meeting these standards. Member States having problems in attaining limit values due to acute problems of specific sites, are given a time extension for compliance (December 2009 at the latest), provided that this is accompanied by a comprehensive plan to ensure compliance within the extended time period.

The proposed Air Quality Directive introduces a new standard for fine particles, referring to PM2.5, which is a 'concentration cap' of 25µg/m3 to be attained till 1 January 2010 in line with World Health Organisation advice. The origin of PM 2.5 can be both natural (for example Sahara Dust and Sea Salt) and anthropogenic (diesel fuel from cars, emissions from the energy and the construction industry).

The economic repercussions of the proposed directive are expected to be substantial in various sectors, in particular the various measures that have to be taken to reduce emissions of dust. Compliance with limit values will require the implementation of various abatement measures in the transport, construction, industry, energy generation and other sectors.

A copy of the Proposed Directive and a Consultation Brief may be obtained from MEPA's website on Further information may be obtained by calling the EU & Multilateral Affairs Unit on 2290 1574, or by email to

Interested parties are invited to send comments by email on, or by fax on 2290 1533 by not later than 2nd March 2006.

At the end of the consultation period copies of the responses received may be made publicly available through the MEPA website. The information they contain may also be published in a summary of responses. If you do not consent to this, you must clearly request that your response be treated confidentially.