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Paris Clean Air forum: European Commission launches its new Real time Air Quality Index and Atlas

Last week, at the Paris Clean Air Forum, attended by Bruno Weinzaepfel from AFITE, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency launched their new Air Quality Index and an Air Quality Atlas.The Air Quality Index has a user-friendly interactive map that shows the local air quality situation, based on five key pollutants that harm people's health and the environment: particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ground-level ozone(O3),nitrogen dioxide(NO2) and sulphur dioxide(SO2). Displaying real-time data for the whole of Europe, the new Index allows citizens to find out how clean the air is that they are breathing. Users can zoom in or search any town or region in Europe to check the local air quality situation. The Air Quality Atlas provides information on the geographical and sectorial sources of air pollution for the 150 biggest cities in Europe. It shows that pollutant emissions in cities originate mainly different human activities; and that transport, agriculture, industry and residential heating and responsible for the largest part. Designed to help implement the EU Air Quality Directives, the Air Quality Index and the Air Quality Atlas will help citizens and policymakers better understand the levels of air quality in their own environments.  Currently, the directives define and establish standards for ambient air quality for key pollutants which have to be reached by all Member States across their territories. Member States then decide on the means to achieve these standards, but they have to make sure that periods during which they are exceeded are kept as short as possible. The Directives also set common methods and criteria to assess air quality. Member States must report 'up to date' air quality measurements, as well as information on their plans and programmes to meet the standards set out by the Air Quality Directives, to the European Commission and the general public.  EU air quality standards and targets are breached in many regions and cities, and public health suffers accordingly, with rising costs to health care and the economy. The total external health-related costs to society from air pollution are estimated to be in the range of €330-940 billion per year.


Issue 56