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How clean is the air in European cities?

September 14, 2023

Check your city air quality with the European City Air viewer

Air quality improved over 30 years, but still a risk

Policies to reduce air pollution have led to improved air quality in Europe over the last three decades. However, in some European cities air pollution still poses risks to health.

In 2021, the WHO updated its health-based guidelines for air quality, and recommended a maximum level of 5 μg/m3 for fine particulate matter for long term exposure in order to protect health. In 2008, the European Union (EU) set an annual limit value for fine particulate matter of 25 μg/m3 under policies to deliver clean air in Europe. The Ambient Air quality Directive 2008/50/EC is currently under revision to, among other things, align the EU standards more closely with the WHO recommendations. The air quality viewer maps the air quality and level of particulate concentration for European cities in different categories

  • good for levels of fine particulate matter that do not exceed the annual guideline value of the World Health Organization of 5 μg/m3,
  • fair for levels above 5 and not exceeding 10 μg/m3
  • moderate for levels above 10 and not exceeding 15 μg/m3;
  • poor for levels above 15 and not exceeding 25 μg/m3; and
  • very poor for levels at and above the European Union limit value of 25 μg/m3.

In Europe, we benefit from the most comprehensive air quality monitoring network in the world. Here we present levels of fine particulate matter in over 340 cities from across EEA member countries. Data comes from on the ground measurements of fine particulate matter, taken by over 400 monitoring stations.

The current version of the viewer includes links to the Urban PM2.5 Atlas produced by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. The Urban PM2.5 Atlas estimates the contribution that different sources of emissions make to the total PM2.5 concentration in 150 European cities. It also includes information about precursors pollutants that contribute to the formation of PM2.5. Additional information on how to read the Urban PM2.5 Atlas pages can be found here. Cities are ranked from the cleanest city to the most polluted, on the basis of average levels of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, over the past two calendar years.

Check the air quality in your European city in real time here

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