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Attainability of PM2.5 air quality standards, situation for the Netherlands in a European context

Report | 26-11-2009
Photo of smog in the air

It is likely that the air quality standards for PM2.5 will be met in time under current and proposed national and European policies, assuming average meteorological conditions. In 2015, the Netherlands has to comply with these standards. A very limited number of exceedances of EU limit or target values may occur along busy streets, due to meteorological year-to-year fluctuations.

In 2008, the European Directive on air quality, among other things, established air quality standards for fine particulate matter. The directive set limits for PM2.5 of 25 microgram per cubic metre, annual average, as a target value for 2010, and a limit value to be achieved by no later than 2015. Furthermore, the EU set standards to limit and reduce the average PM2.5 concentration in urban areas. This approach is new.

It is likely that all limit and target values for PM2.5 will be met, in time, under current and proposed national and European policies, assuming average meteorological conditions. Therefore, the PM2.5 standards appear not to be more stringent than the current PM10 limit values. Presently, the Netherlands is in the process of adapting its policy, monitoring methods and models, to comply with the requirements of the air quality directive for PM2.5. To support the process, this report provides an assessment of the attainability of the various air quality standards for PM2.5.

Uncertainties in this assessment are large. Therefore, meteorological fluctuations may cause additional exceedances of the 25 μg/m3 limit value. The EU has set a target value to reduce the average national PM2.5 concentration at urban background locations, between 2010 and 2020, the so-called exposure reduction target (ERT). The ERT value for the Netherlands has not yet been set, but will most probably be 15%, although a value of 20% also cannot be excluded. An ERT of 15% is probably attainable for the Netherlands, while an ERT of 20% appears unattainable with technical emission reduction measures, except when additional measures would be taken, Europe wide.

The study was carried out by PBL as part of the Netherlands Research Program on Particulate Matter (BOP). 

Author(s)Matthijsen J ; Jimmink BA ; Leeuw FAAM de ; Smeets WLM
Report no.500099015
Publication date26-11-2009