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Executive summary

European Union directives on ambient air quality require member states including the UK to undertake air quality assessments, and to report the findings of these assessments to the European Commission on an annual basis:

  • The Directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (2008/50/EC), which is known as the ‘Air Quality Directive’ (AQD)
  • The fourth Daughter Directives 2004/107/EC (AQDD4) under the Air Quality Framework Directive (1996/62/EC).

The UK annual air quality assessment for the year 2012 has been undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the AQD and the AQDD4. The assessment takes the form of comparisons of measured and modelled air pollutant concentrations with the limit values, critical levels, target values and long term objectives set out in the directives. The AQD includes a requirement to deduct the contribution to ambient PM from natural sources. The results were submitted to the European Commission in the form of a standard questionnaire (the ‘questionnaire’) which each member state must complete and upload onto the Central Data Repository of the European Environment Agency.

The AQD sets limit values for the ambient concentrations to be achieved for sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particles (PM10), lead (Pb), benzene (C6H6), and carbon monoxide (CO).

The AQD also includes:

  • critical levels for the protection of vegetation to be achieved for ambient concentrations of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx)
  • a target value, limit values, an exposure concentration obligation and exposure reduction targets for fine particles (PM2.5)
  • target values and long-term objectives for ozone (O3)

AQDD4 sets target values for the ambient concentrations to be achieved for Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), Nickel (Ni), and Benzo(a)Pyrene (B(a)P).

This report provides a summary of key attainment results from the questionnaire for the AQD and AQDD4 pollutants and technical information on the modelling methods that have been used.

Associated documents:
Report (9.67 MB)