Environment: Air quality

United Kingdom
The first new ambient air quality limit values under the 1996 Framework Directive on Ambient Air Quality Assessment and Management have been proposed for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, lead and particulates.

Proposed standards will follow over the next few years for other air pollutants, including ozone, benzene, carbon monoxide and heavy metals. Member States will be required to take action to ensure that these standards are achieved by the target dates set in the Directive: 2005 for sulphur dioxide and lead; and 2010 for nitrogen oxide and particulates.

The Commission estimates that 10% reductions in sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions will be required to meet these limits on top of the reductions that will be achieved by current and pending EU legislation. In some European cities, particulate emissions may have to be reduced by up to 50% to comply with the new standards.