Public Health: Legislative Controls

Legislative Controls of Air Pollution: European legislation sets out a number of requirements to control outdoor concentrations of PM2.5 and other air pollutants.  The EU Directive on Ambient Air Quality includes legally binding Limit Values for some pollutants including PM10 (the mass per cubic metre of air of particles with a size (diameter) generally less than 10 micrometers) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). These pollutants also have adverse effects on health and are often associated with the same combustion sources as PM2.5. There is also a requirement to notify the public when concentrations of ground-level ozone (O3) are elevated.

Member States are expected to ensure that the annual average concentration of PM2.5 does not exceed 25 µg/m3. The legislation also aims to reduce the levels of PM2.5 to which the population is exposed: as no threshold for the effects of long-term exposure to particulate matter on mortality has been identified, continuing to reduce overall population exposure to PM2.5 even below this target value will have important public health benefits.  Each Member State should achieve an Exposure Concentration Obligation (ECO) of no more than 20 µg/m3 averaged nationally across background sites in major urban centres over 3 years.  In addition, Member States are required to achieve a reduction in population exposure to PM2.5 over a period of 10 years between 2010 and 2020.  

Further Information 

UK Compliance Study Action Plans 

Air Pollution in the UK 2011

Air Quality: Public Health Impacts and Local Actions is a leaflet (PDF, 226KB, 6 pages) of the information on these webpages.