Air quality in Brussels ‘now meets EU standards,’ new figures show

Air quality in Brussels ‘now meets EU standards,’ new figures show
Road Traffic in Brussels. © European Union 2013 EP/Bauweraerts. Didier

The latest air quality measurements in Brussels reveal that air pollutants have declined enough to meet the EU’s air quality standards, but that more improvements are needed to meet higher health standards.

“The [numbers] are slowly improving,” Brussels Minister for Environment Alain Maron said in a radio interview, noting that the improvement signalled the need to keep up the work in order to maintain a slow but steady upward trend.

“We can now meet the air quality levels demanded by EU standards but not yet those of the World Health Organisation, which means the quality of the air in Brussels is still fairly poor, but there’s a general positive tendency,” Maron said.

The figures cited by Maron measured the levels of nitrogen oxide (NO2) and of fine particles, pollutants commonly linked to the widespread use of diesel-powered vehicles.

In order to respect the EU’s air quality standards, NO2 levels should remain below 200 µg/m3 within an average period of one hour.

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“There is a progressive improvement because there are fewer diesel vehicles than before, we know that the Low Emissions Zone is slowly producing results,” he said, adding that measures taken to improve the efficiency of residential heating were also “slowly bearing fruit.”

Readings from 3 March recorded by Interregional Environment Agency (CELINE/IRCEL) show that at their highest, NO2 levels in Brussels hit 63.

The measuring stations in Belliard, Arts-Loi, Haren and Ixelles show the highest concentration of NO2, while the lowest numbers were recorded in Uccle and in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe.

“We must step up efforts if we want to have pure air in Brussels (…) this is a public health concern, cardiologists are again saying that [poor air quality] is a leading driver of mortality and of cardiovascular disease,” he added, noting that children and the elderly were the most affected.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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