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Legal Air Quality Roadside Standards Ignored

01 December 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970
 

Many European countries do not meet legal air quality standards for ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2) near roads; a problem that has been forecasted to persist to 2030

Although European air quality standards regulate NO2 concentrations, emissions standards for new vehicles instead set limits for NO x - the combination of nitric oxide (NO) and NO2. From around 1990 onwards, the total emissions of NO x declined significantly in Europe but roadside concentrations of NO2 declined much less than expected.

This discrepancy has been attributed largely to the increasing usage of diesel vehicles in Europe and more directly emitted tailpipe NO2. A survey applied a data-filtering technique to 130 million hourly measurements of NO x, NO2 and ozone (O3) from roadside monitoring stations across 61 urban areas in Europe over the period 1990–2015 to estimate the continent-wide trends of directly emitted NO2. It was found that the ratio of NO2 to NO x emissions increased from 1995 to around 2010 but has since stabilised at a level that is substantially lower than is assumed in some key emissions inventories.

The proportion of NO x now being emitted directly from road transport as NO2 is up than the estimates used in policy projections.

Picture: Air quality standards across Europe is, if not going backward, certainly not progressing in line with targets

 

Article written by Stuart K. Grange, Alastair C. Lewis, Sarah J. Moller & David C. Carslaw | Published 01 December 2017

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