Europe-wide air quality ‘index’ launched

An online index with air quality measurements from more than 2,000 monitoring stations across the continent has been launched today (16 November).

The Index consists of an interactive map that shows the local air quality situation at station level, based on pollutants including particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ground-level ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).

EEA’s European Air Quality Index

Users can zoom in or search for any town or region in Europe to check the overall air quality and measurements per key pollutant. The Index shows an overall rating for each monitoring station, marked by a coloured dot on the map corresponding to the worst rating for any of the five pollutants.

Launched jointly by the European Environment Agency and the European Commission, data is available hourly up to a 48-hour dataset, using reports from the 33 EEA member countries, including the United Kingdom.

The Index uses ‘up-to-date’ air quality data officially reported every hour by the EEA’s member countries, complemented by modelled air quality data from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS).

Monitoring

EEA has noted that the data is not formally verified and therefore is not considered for compliance against air quality standards. When data from countries has not been reported for a given hour, values are approximated (‘gap-filled’) using CAMS modelled air quality data. In such cases, it is clearly marked within the Index as ‘modelled data’.

EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella (© European Union , 2016. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service. Photo: François Walschaerts)

Launching the tool at the European Commission’s Clean Air Forum in Paris today, Hans Bruyninckx, EEA executive director, said: “The new European Air Quality Index gives citizens an easy way to access information on their local air quality, which can have a direct impact on their health. This information, accessible to everyone, is an important basis for a dialogue and decisions that are needed to safeguard people’s health, especially in cities.”

EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, added: “Air pollution is an invisible killer, so the Air Quality Index is needed to inform European citizens on the state of the air they breathe in their own neighbourhood. We are working with cities, regions, countries and industry to tackle the sources of that pollution, which is a cocktail coming from factories, homes and fields, not only from transport. We must all work together to improve air quality.”

During his address to the Forum this morning, Mr Vella highlighted ‘progress’ that the EU is making in tackling air pollution, claiming that Europe is ‘laying down the law’ on air quality.

He said: “Europe is laying down the law. I have been very clear with EU Member States that they have to ‘up their game’. Failing to meet air quality standards that have been in place for decades is not an option. That’s why we are taking legal action to push Member States into complying with these obligations.

“I know it isn’t easy, that’s why we want to tackle this problem together. I’ve launched “Clean Air Dialogues” with three Member States so far, and several more are on the way.”

Related Links
European Air Quality Index