Name and shame: 8 countries still above European Union air pollution limits

EU air pollution mapEEA/Screen capture

Good news, bad news

The European Environmental Agency (EEA) has released preliminary data on air pollution in the EU member countries for 2011 (yes, there's a time lag), and it's a "good news, bad news" kind of affair. The bad news is that there are still 8 countries - Luxembourg, Austria, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, and Finland - that exceed limits on air pollution, most for NOx, though in Finland's case amonia (NH3) is the big problem. The good news is that the previous year, in 2010, there were 12 countries over the limits, so 8 is a relative improvement.

While we often have a lot of good things to say about Germany for its push into solar, it was the only EU country to have exceeded three of four emission ceilings under the directive in both 2010 and 2011. What a shame. C'mon Germany, you can do better!

The National Emission Ceilings in the EU cover 4 main pollutants: Sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia (NH3). These pollutants can cause respiratory problems, contribute to the acidification of soil and surface water, and damage vegetation.

EEA air pollution chart for 2011EEA/Screen capture

The chart above shows each country's emissions compared to the limits, so if you are under 100% (on the left), you are below that ceiling, and if you are on the right of it, you bust it. For example, Luxembourg is almost 64% above the limit in NOx, and Austria is 40% over.

Let's hope that the laggards will clean up their act -- literally. Air quality regulations matter a lot, as has been proven time and time again.


See also: Think Air Quality Regulations Don't Matter? Look at Pittsburgh in the 1940s!

Related Content on