Background

The Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQ) define common methods to monitor, assess and inform on ambient air quality in the European Union, and establish objectives for ambient air quality to avoid, prevent or reduce harmful effects on human health and the environment. They are a cornerstone of the EU’s ambient air policy and contain several objectives and common methodologies for assessing (non-occupational) ambient air quality.

Directive 2004/107/EC establishes emission targets for arsenic concentration, cadmium, nickel, and benzo(a)pyrene in the air. It also determines common methods and criteria for the assessment of concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air.

Directive 2008/50/EC sets emission targets for SO₂, NO₂ and NOx, PM10, PM2.5, Pb, Benzene, and CO. It also defines assessment criteria, reference measurement methods and requires the Member States to inform the public over ambient air quality.

Why is it important?

A mineral like lime is essential to lowering emission values when purifying flue gases. Quicklime and lime products are used to bind gases from combustion processes – such as sulphur dioxide, hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride and make them suitable for recycling.

Also, special mixtures can absorb mercury and dioxins/furans. Every year, millions of tonnes of lime products are used just for these applications, mainly for flue gas desulphurisation in power plants, waste incineration plants and industrial plants

Our views

In its recently published report on the Ambient Air Quality Directives (SWD(2019) 427) Review, the European Commission concludes that the current legislation has already led to measurable improvements in air quality as the directives provide the necessary instruments to meet existing challenges.

IMA-Europe is certain that the industry’s contribution to better air quality can be achieved with the current Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU (IED). If air quality standards have not yet been fully achieved, this is due to a lack of transposition or poor application of European law in member states, and not due to any weaknesses in the European legislation itself.

It is necessary to clearly define interfaces with other existing areas of law in air policy. Only a coherent and consistent European air policy can achieve its goals. IMA-Europe will continue to stress the importance of a legislative framework on air quality protection with cost-effective and reachable requirements with the available up-to-date technologies.