Policy research programme on particulate matter. Main results and policy consequences

12-11-2010 | Publication

Recent research has clarified a number of facts about particulate matter in the atmosphere and has overturned a number of assumptions. For example, it is now clear that a much greater proportion of particulate matter is caused by human (anthropogenic) activities than was previously assumed. Measures that focus on reducing anthropogenic emissions are therefore potentially more effective for reducing particulate matter concentrations. However, measurements of PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations – the standard size fractions of particulate matter – have been shown to be less effective than assumed as indicators of local health impact. This applies especially to assessments of measures to control emissions from healthrelevant combustion processes, such as traffic exhaust emissions. Further research must be conducted to determine whether specific components of particulate matter, such as black smoke or elementary carbon, would be more suitable indicators.

Latest research shows that particulate matter is largely anthropogenic in origin

These are several conclusions from the ‘Policy Research Programme on Particulate Matter’ (BOP) of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and TNO. This programme took place from 2007 to 2009 and was funded by the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM). BOP aimed to reduce the number of policy dilemmas that occur when  enforcing European standards for particulate matter. The research has led to various new insights into the composition and sources of particulate matter and  into the progress in particulate matter policy. These insights have led to policy recommendations, and the results of the various components of the research have been published in 15 reports. The present report summarises the results of the entire research programme and its policy implications.

The Netherlands Research Program on Particulate Matter (BOP) is a national program on PM10 and PM2.5. It is a framework of cooperation involving the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency , the Environment and Safety Division of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and TNO Built Environment and Geosciences.

Only available in digital format
This study is a BOP publication produced under the auspices of PBL.