A European Union air pollutant emission inventory report compiled by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and released in July shows that the EU27 has cut SO2 emissions by 78 per cent since 1990. The decline was particularly sharp – more than 20 per cent – from 2007 to 2008, most probably as a result of the entry into force of stricter emission standards for old large coal-fired power plants. SO2 pollution acidifies ecosystems and forms harmful fine particulate matter (PM) in the atmosphere.
The emissions of the three ozone precursors NOx, VOCs and CO also continued their downward trend. Ground-level ozone is a harmful pollutant that can trigger respiratory problems, contribute to premature mortality and also damage plants, reducing agricultural crop yields.
Emission trends for healthdamaging primary fine particles (PM2.5 and PM10) have not improved much in the last five years, with emissions actually increasing slightly (by 0.2 per cent) in 2008 compared to the previous year.
The full report: European Union emission inventory report 1990–2008 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP). EEA Technical report No 7/2010