Ten EU countries continue to breach National Emission Ceilings Directive limits
Air pollution from sources such as transport and agriculture is still being emitted above legal limits in 10 European Union (EU) Member States according to new data published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) recently.
Image © @Grimme Group
Under the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) (2001/81/EC), EU Member States have individual air pollutant emission limits, or 'ceilings', restricting emissions for four important air pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3).
As of 2010, all Member States are required to meet their emission ceilings, but preliminary 2014 data and final data for 2010-13 in the EEA’s new briefing ‘NEC Directive reporting status 2015’ shows that a number of countries consistently breached their limits for NOx, NMVOCs and NH3 in all these years.
The main reasons for the exceedances are emissions from road transport (NOx) and agriculture (NH3). Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the harmful component of NOx, directly harms health as high concentrations can cause inflammation of the airways leading to respiratory conditions and cardiovascular disease. In addition, NOx forms fine particulate matter and ozone in the atmosphere. Both pollutants have adverse effects on human health. NH3, which mainly stems from the use of fertilisers and the handling of animal manure, also forms particulate matter in the atmosphere. Moreover, both pollutants have impacts on ecosystems as they contain nitrogen.
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