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New maps give Europeans close-up picture of air pollution from diffuse sources

PM10 emissions from road transport in Paris. Click to enlarge.

New online maps published by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency, in close cooperation with the Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) of the Joint Research Centre, allow citizens to pinpoint the main diffuse sources of air pollution, such as transport and aviation.

The new set of 32 maps allows Europeans to see on a scale of 5 km by 5 km where pollutants are released. They include details of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia (NH3) and particulate matter (PM10). It complements existing data on emissions from individual industrial plants from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR).

NOx emissions from road transport. Click to enlarge.

The E-PRTR, launched in 2009 to improve access to environmental information, contains data reported by individual industrial facilities (point sources) and, as of now, information on emissions from road transport, shipping, aviation, heating of buildings, agriculture and small businesses (diffuse sources).

Diffuse sources of pollution are widespread and/or concentrated in highly populated areas. A large number of many tiny emissions from houses and vehicles represent collectively a large, diffuse source of pollution, in particular in cities.

While air quality data are publicly available from both national and European data providers, these data do not provide information concerning the various sources of pollution. The new maps raise awareness about local releases of air pollutants, and allow citizens to zoom in on their own neighborhood. In addition, air quality experts can use the data for modelling, thereby assessing the environmental consequences of local emissions.

The spatial distribution maps reveal, for example, large hotspots for emissions of ammonia (NH3) from agriculture in the Po Valley in Italy, in Brittany in France, and the Benelux countries. High levels of ammonia emissions harm the environment by contributing to soil and freshwater acidification and eutrophication.

They also show the extent to which NOx and PM10 emissions from road transport occur in large urban areas and along the main road networks. In cities road transport in particular contributes significantly to the levels of PM10 in the air.

Background. In 2003, parties to the Aarhus Convention—including the EU—adopted the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR), which entered into force on 8 October 2009. The EU has gone beyond the PRTR Protocol by requiring Member States to report information on an additional five pollutants to the 85 substances listed, and imposing more stringent reporting thresholds for another six.

Information in the E-PRTR is updated in May each year. In addition to the 27 Member States of the European Union, it also includes data from Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Serbia started reporting to the E-PRTR in 2011. The website now includes the new information on diffuse source releases into air for 2008 covering key pollutants. Further information on diffuse source releases into water and soil will be included in coming years.


Stan Peterson

If you ever wanted some proof of the poor environmental regulations and the phoniness of so called "clean Diesels" in Europe.

Even as America's Air Quality is clearing to the point that by the First Earth Day's standards, all the air throughout the USA is now clean. By today's tightened standards, only Houston's refinery skyline, and the peculiar geography of the Los Angeles basin have polluted air. But even there it is much much better than before.

Similarly, there are no longer any American rivers that are open sewers. The waters have been scoured and fish and wildlife returned is the typical situation.

Meanwhile EU cities get dirtier, and only in 2016 will Europe adopt toxic air regulation standards that America had adopted some thirty years ago. But only after the great technological progress made by American automakers, on their own dime, in the early 1980s.

As California anticipating the Feds, nears adopting the last possible toxic air regulations, that merely require only pure air out of there tailpipe, America's automakers have anticpated and preceded them, and 25% of the cars in California and the USA, already meet the proposed Ultimate sub-SULEV II standard.

No, EVs are not 25% of the California auto fleet, but 25% of the cars on California's roads and all over the USA, are fully as clean as if they were BEVs.

I don't want phony Euro "clean Diesels" allowed into the USA to re-pollute our air. The equal performance standards that we have, should not favor nor disfavor any type of power plant.

Treat them all the same, just as our current standards do, and that will force the Diesel to be cleaned up by technological progress, just as the gasoline ICEs were.

HarveyD you really believe one single line you have written above? If you do, there may be a major problem there. If you are trying to be funny.....well...?

Stan Peterson

Harvey D,

You have been reading Doomsday forcasts, for far too long. Do you really think that all the massive and expensive efforts we have invested over the past two score years, are doing not a bit of good?

The reality is that we have made significant progress in cleansing the Air and Waters in North America. Just as you should expect.

But propagandists can never admit Progress. Even good charities like the American Lung Association still nominates tobacco as the most addictive drug, for its fundraising. Despite the reality of a transformation from when 70-80% of the adult poulation smoked, to now when less than 20% still do. The majority of the adult population quit, and stayed quit. Compare that to Heroin addiction which has a recidivism rate of over 99%.

Yes, we have reached the point when measured against the most fervent wishes of earnest Earth Day environmentalists, we have reached that point, where we have essentially clean Air, in the USA and Canada.

Hooray for us.

Endemic, systemic Air pollution has been conquered for all but two American metropolitan areas, metropolitan Houston and Los Angeles. But both areas are approaching compliance too.

There are still "technical violations" everywhere. If your houses catches fire and burns down, the Air Quality on your block, will be polluted for a few 15 minute segments; and duly reported by a few of the hundreds of local metroplitan air sensors. So technically over a year, every area has a Air Quality problem for the enviro-crazies to crow about, but endemic, metropolitan-wide polluted Air is essentially a thing of the past, here in Canada and the USA.

If you ever bothered to look at the EPA's annual reports, in detail, you will find those Houston and Los Angeles county areas prominently mentioned, as well as a few other western cities. Our wonderful knuckleheads in the EPA, note that PM10 and PM2.5 are exceeded by some western cities for a few days every year.

As I live in Phoenix, a city in the middle of the desert, we like other desert cities, do suffer from a type of sand/dust storm blowing in on the desert winds for a few hours every year. These few annual desert sandstorms arrive and the EPA knuckleheads, duly note the poor metropolitan-wide air quality reported by all the hundreds of metropolitan sensors and decides that Mankind is to blame for violating PM standards. Utter, but convenient, nonsense. Mankind has been living in the desert since long before the Pharoahs, and prospered and populated the rest of the World.

Do you realize that the EPA has forced most adult Americans to purchase and run their own "Air purification pumps", all at their own expense? These machines pump in ambient air, process it, and expell it cleaner than when in it when into the "Air purification pumps".

But you may be more familiar with another name for these "Air purification pumps". We commonly call them ICE powered "cars". They are actually better than the BEVs you so prefer, because unlike the BEV, they cleanse the air when equipped with modern emissions controls, that clean the toxic emissions to T2B5 levels or below, which is cleaner than most ambient air.

CARB and the FEDs will soon tighten the toxic air emissions to T2B2, (SULEV II in CARB speak), which is not only clean, but pristine air, and much better than ambient air.

I have said before that peer reviewed scientific papers, that have never been refuted, reveal North America to be a NET CO2 sink for the rest of the World. North Americans emit not a gram of CO2 by Man or Nature that is not more than sequestered here in North America.

CO2 is an over-blown psuedo-problem, now fully equivalent to the Party-line Science of Stalin's Trofim Lysenko's foolish genetics theories. CO2 may be a problem, which I do not even admit, for the Europeans and Asians, who do emit CO2 on a Net basis, but not for us. Our land set-asides for bio-sequestration, among other uses, are already more than sufficient to do the job.

Unlike many of you, I was a practicing environmentalist who would rather light a candle than curse the darkness. My own firm invested over thirty million dollars in efforts to recycle a common massive scrap problem for which no one had been able to develop a practical answer. A competitor's solution proved better, but that recycling problem has been answered.

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