In the period 2002–2011 the emissions of major pollutants in Europe decreased which resulted in the improvement of ambient air quality in the whole region at least as concerns some of the pollutants. In some sectors emissions of some pollutants increased, e.g. PM emissions from the combustion of fuels in the commercial and institutional sectors and in households have increased approx. by 7 % since the year 2002. At present this sector is the main contributor to total PM emissions within the European Union. The decrease of emissions resulted in a marked decrease of SO2, CO and Pb concentrations. Nevertheless, with regard to the complicated relation between emissions and air polluting substances the decrease of emissions does not always lead to the proportional decrease of concentrations, especially in the case of PM and O3 (EEA 2013a).

The level of air pollution is markedly different in various parts of the CR. On the one hand there are the areas with very low air pollution levels similar to those in clean densely inhabited regions of Europe and the pollutants’ concentrations remain below the limit values. Nevertheless the lowest concentrations, e.g. of PM10 and PM2.5, measured in the CR are comparable with the concentrations in many European cities, i.e. the background concentrations in the CR are higher than those in the least loaded areas of Europe. On the other hand the agglomeration of Ostrava/Karviná/Frýdek-Místek ranks together with the adjacent area of the Republic of Poland among the most polluted European regions, and namely in terms of the surface of the area and the reached concentrations (Chapter IV). Transboundary transfer of polluted air between the CR and the neighbouring countries is most intensive in Silesia (more details see in Chapter V.3 and Blažek et al. 2013). Ostrava, as the representative of a big city, has occupied one of the top positions among the comparable big European cities in the long term as concerns PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations (Fig. VIII.1). Of course, the polluted air is transferred to the CR also in further areas, however, in these areas the mutual transboundary influence is much lower. There is another specific problem, and namely the long-range transfer of pollutants across the whole continent and beyond1.

The greatest problem in Europe, similarly as in the CR, consists primarily in the above-the-limit concentrations of suspended particles and benzo[a]pyrene. Particularly the inhabitants of big cities and agglomerations are exposed to the above-the-limit concentrations of NO2. The occurrence of concentrations exceeding the limit values can be assumed also in the countries which monitor the respective pollutants only in the limited number of localities or do not monitor them at all, or they do not report the data to the European database2. These primary pollutants from the local and regional sources of emissions are followed by air pollution caused by secondary aerosol and ozone; ozone concentrations, with regard to the mechanism of its origin (see Chapter IV.4.3) increase from low values in northern Europe to the highest concentrations mainly in the states around the Mediterranean Sea (Fig. VIII.2).
On a European scale a large amount of European population are exposed to the above-the-limit concentrations. The EU member states reported the following data in 20113: 22–33 % of urban population exposed to the above-the-limit 24-hour concentrations of PM10, 20–31 % exposed to the above-the-limit annual concentrations of PM2.5, 22–31 % exposed to the abovethe-limit annual concentrations of benzo[a]pyrene, 14–18 % exposed to the above-the-limit concentrations of O3 and 5–13 % exposed the above-the-limit annual concentrations of NO2. The share of population exposed to the concentrations exceeding the WHO guideline values was even higher, and namely e.g. 91–96 % for PM2.5, 76–94 % for benzo[a]pyrene, 97–98 % for O3 and even 46–54 % for SO2 (EEA 2013a)4. The above-the-limit concentrations of suspended particles and benzo[a]pyrene affect most strongly the inhabitants of the central and eastern Europe, incl. the Balkan peninsula, the most polluted areas include also the Po lowland in northern Italy (Fig. VIII.3–6).


Fig. VIII.1 Average concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 in the European cities with 250,000–350, 000 inhabitants

Fig. VIII.2 Concentrations of PM2.5, benzo[a]pyrene, NO2 (annual average) and O3 (max. daily 8-hour average) in Europe, 2011 (Source: EEA 2013a)

Fig. VIII.3 36th highest value of maximum daily average of PM10 concentration, 2011 (Source: ETC/ACM 2013)

Fig. VIII.4 Annual mean concentrations of benzo[a]pyrene in Europe, 2011(Source: EEA 2013a)

Fig. VIII.5 Annual mean concentrations of NO2 in Europe, 2011(Source: EEA 2013a)

Fig. VIII.6 26th highest value of maximum daily 8-hour running average of ground-level ozone concentrations, 2011(Source: ETC/ACM 2013)

1More details: The European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP),

2AirBase – the European Air quality dataBase,

3By the deadline of the yearbook the summary data for the year 2011 were available (EEA 2013a; ETC/ACM 2013).

4Information on population and vegetation exposure to PM10, PM2.5 and O3 concentrations in the respective European countries 2006–2011 see (ETC/ACM 2013).