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Summary results 2014

Europe defines and establishes objectives for ambient air quality designed to avoid, prevent or reduce harmful effects on human health and the environment as a whole. From the assessment of the air quality results in 2014, it transpires that Flanders achieves the European objectives in terms of many substances.

Europe lays down rules for air quality. The air quality results of 2014 indicate that Flanders meets the European targets for a great number of substances. For the first time, the daily limit for particulate matter was met in all Flemish measuring stations. The nickel concentrations again exceeded the European target.

Arsenic and cadmium were also found to exceed the respective European targets. The European targets for ozone were met, but the long-term targets for ozone were not. Since the European Commission has granted Flanders an extension for achieving the annual limit for nitrogen oxides in two zones, there were no exceedances for these substances in 2014. This extension runs until 2015.

The table below compares the Flemish air quality in 2014 with the currently applicable or future European limit and target values.

2008/50/EG  limit value     validityaverage on the basis ofalert treshold


sulphur dioxide   yes Green tick icon Green tick icon Green tick icon

nitrogen oxide       




Green tick icon


Green tick icon

red tick icon (3/59)

Green tick icon

PM10 particulate matter (fraction < 10 µm)   yes Green tick icon Green tick icon
PM2,5 particulate matter (fraction < 2,5 µm)  2015 Green tick icon
CO carbon monoxide yes Green tick icon
Pb lead yes Green tick icon
benzene benzene yes Green tick icon
2008/50/EG - target valuehour8-hourdayyear
O3 ozone


long-term objective



Green tick icon

red tick icon

Green tick icon
2004/107/EG - target value                hour8-hourdayyear
As arsenic yes red tick icon (3/12)
Cd cadmium yes red tick icon (2/12)
Ni nickel yes red tick icon (1/12)
B(a)P benzo(a)pyrene yes Green tick icon


Which pollutants exceed the air quality standards in 2014?

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

All Flemish measuring stations met the hourly limit value and the alert threshold for nitrogen dioxide. The annual limit was also reached in 2014. This is the result, however, of the European Commission granting an extension until 2015 for attaining the annual limit in the Antwerp agglomeration and in the port of Antwerp. In 2014, there were three measuring stations where the future European limit was not met. Two of these are located in the Antwerp agglomeration. The third is located in the port of Antwerp and is irrelevant in terms of health. However, we know from various measurement campaigns and model calculations that the annual limit for nitrogen oxide is also being exceeded in other cities and heavy traffic areas.

Particulate matter (PM10)

All Flemish measuring stations met the PM10 annual limit (40 µg/m³) in 2014. The highest annual average in 2014 amounted to 30 µg/m³. Also the future annual limit for PM2.5 was met everywhere in Flanders. For the first time since the start of the measurements, all measuring stations in Flanders met the European daily limit for PM10. At one measuring station, notably in Borgerhout, the daily limit was just met, but continuing to meet this limit in the next few years will prove to be a challenge.

Ozone (O3)

2014 was a very good ozone year. The information threshold for ozone was exceeded on one day at two of the nineteen measuring stations. The alarm threshold was not exceeded anywhere. The target values for the protection of human health and for the protection of vegetation were achieved everywhere.

The European long-term target for human health was not met anywhere in Flanders. The target for the protection of vegetation was met at three measuring stations.

Arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd) and nickel (Ni)

Europe has defined target values for the metals arsenic, cadmium and nickel. In 2014, they were exceeded in regions with (non-)ferrous industry. In Hoboken, the values for arsenic and cadmium were exceeded. In Beerse, the cadmium concentrations were too high. In contrast with 2013, Genk again recorded an exceedance of the target value for nickel.

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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