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Summary results 2016

Europe defines and establishes standards for air quality. The air quality results of 2016 indicate that Flanders meets the European targets for the majority of pollutants.

For some pollutants, however, targets are not yet met:

  • The nitrogen dioxide concentrations exceeded the European limit value at 2 measuring stations. Model calculations and local measurement campaigns show that the annual limit value is also exceeded at other locations with a lot of traffic;
  • The long-term target for ozone was exceeded;
  • The heavy metal concentrations for arsenic and cadmium were too high near a number of metal plants.

The table below assesses Flemish air quality in 2016 against European regulations. These limit or target values take into account not only health effects, but also technical feasibility and economic consequences of the concentration levels imposed by the regulations.
The numbers between brackets are the number of measuring stations that met the guideline value and the total number of measuring stations.

2008/50/EG
limit value     
average on the basis ofalert
treshold
 infor-
mation
treshold
hour8-hourdayyear

SO2
sulphur dioxide

Green tick icon(25/25) Green tick icon 
(25/25)
25/25

NO2
nitrogen oxide       

Green tick icon

55/55

red tick icon (53/55)

55/55

 

PM10
particulate matter
(fraction < 10 µm)

Green tick icon(38/38) Green tick icon
(38/38)
PM2,5
particulate matter
(fraction < 2,5 µm)   
Green tick icon
(40/40)
CO
carbon monoxide   
Green tick icon 
(4/4)
Pb
lead
Green tick icon
(12/12)
benzene Green tick icon
(12/12)
2008/50/EG - Ozonehour8-hourdayyear
Health 

 

 

Green tick icon
(19/19)


red tick icon
(10/19)

Target value

 

Green tick icon(19/19)

Long-term target

 

 red tick icon
(1/19)

Vegetation

 

 

Target value

 Green tick icon
(19/19)

 

Long-term target

 red tick icon(8/19)

 

2004/107/EG - target valuehour8-hourdayyear
As
arsenic

 red tick icon(7/12)

 

 

Cd
cadmium

 red tick icon(4/6)

Ni
nickel
 

 Green tick icon (11/11)

B(a)P
benzo(a)pyrene

 Green tick icon (8/8))

 

World Health Organisation guideline values not yet within reach

When we assess the air quality in 2016 against the World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline values, we see that particulate matter, ozone and sulphur dioxide are particularly problematic. Compared with the guideline values:

Compared with these guideline values, the concentrations of:

  • ozone are too high at all measuring stations;
  • particular matter is too high at almost all measuring stations;
  • sulphur dioxide is too high at almost half of the measuring stations;
  • nitrogen dioxide and cadmium are too high at a few locations.

The table below assesses Flemish air quality in 2016 against the WHO guideline values.
The numbers between brackets are the number of measuring stations that met the guideline value and the total number of measuring stations.

2008/50/EG  limit value     average on the basis of
hour8-hourdayyear

 WHO recommended value -   health

 

 

SO2
sulphur dioxide  

red tick icon 
(14/25)
NO2

nitrogen oxide       

red tick icon
(14/25)

red tick icon
(53/55)

PM10
particulate matter (fraction < 10 µm)  
red tick icon
(6/38)
red tick icon
(5/38)
PM2,5
particulate matter(fraction < 2,5 µm) 
red tick icon
(0/40)
red tick icon
(0/40)
CO
carbon monoxide
Green tick icon
(4/4)
 O3
ozone
red tick icon
(0/19)
Pb
lead
Green tick icon
(12/12)
Cd
cadmium
red tick icon
(4/6)
Hg
mercury
Green tick icon
(2/2) 
Mn
manganese
Green tick icon
(12/12)

 

These guideline values are not included in the Flemish legislation. Their sole purpose is to protect human health, so no consideration is given to economic consequences or technical feasibility. This explains why the WHO guidelines are often more stringent than the European standards. As a result, the concentrations of quite a number of pollutants exceeded these guideline values, although they amply met the regulations imposed by Europe.

Read the extended summary air quality 2016

VMM contributes to a better air quality in Flanders. We continuously monitor the air quality by measuring the presence of harmful substances in the ambient air.

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